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CHAPTER 5. Cao Cao Appeals To The Powerful Lords; The Three Brothers Fight Against Lu Bu.

| Articles of Ancient China, English Version - Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel | March 6, 2011

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At the close of the last chapter, Chen Gong was
about to slay Cao Cao. But Chen Gong reflected, “I
joined him to do righteous things. Now if I killed him,
I would only do unrighteousness and the people
would condemn me. I rather leave in silence.”
Rising from his bed before the sunrise, Chen
Gong mounted his horse and rode away eastward to
his home county of Dongjun.
Cao Cao awoke with the day and missed his
companion. Thought he, “Chen Gong thinks me
brutal because of a couple of egoistic phrases I
used, and so he has gone. I ought to push on too
and not linger here.”
So Cao Cao traveled as quickly as possible
toward Qiao. When he saw his father, he related
what had happened and said he wanted to dispose
of all the family property and enlist soldiers with the
money.
“Our possessions are but small,” said his father,
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“and not enough to do anything with. However, there
is a graduate here, one Wei Hong, careless of wealth
but careful of virtue, whose family is very rich. With
his help we might hope for success.”
A feast was prepared and Wei Hong was invited.
Cao Cao made him a speech: “The Hans have lost
their lordship, and Dong Zhuo is really a tyrant. He
flouts his prince and is cruel to the people, who
gnash their teeth with rage. I would restore the Hans,
but my means are insufficient. Sir, I appeal to your
loyalty and public spirit.”
Wei Hong replied, “I have long desired this but, so
far, have not found a person fit to undertake the task.
Since you, Cao Cao, have so noble a desire, I
willingly devote all my property to the cause.”
This was joyful news, and the call to arms was
forthwith prepared and sent far and near. So they
established a corps of volunteers and set up a large
white recruiting banner with the words “Loyalty and
Honor” inscribed thereon. The response was rapid,
and volunteers came in like rain drops in number.
One day came a certain Yue Jin from Yangping
and another Li Dian from Julu. These two were
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appointed to Cao Cao’s personal staff. Another was
one Xiahou Dun from Qiao. He was descended from
Xiahou Ying of old. Xiahou Dun had been trained
from his early boyhood to use the spear and the
club. When only fourteen he had been attached to a
certain master−in−arms. One day one person spoke
disrespectfully of his master, and Xiahou Dun killed
that person. For this deed, however, he had to flee
and had been an exile for some time. Now he came
to offer his services, accompanied by his cousin
Xiahou Yuan. Each brought a thousand trained
soldiers. Really these two were brothers of Cao Cao
by birth, since Cao Cao’s father was originally of the
Xiahou family, and had only been adopted into the
Cao family.
A few days later came Cao Cao’s two cousins,
Cao Ren and Cao Hong, each with one thousand
followers. These two were accomplished horsemen
and trained in the use of arms.
Then drill began, and Wei Hong spent his
treasure freely in buying clothing, armor, flags, and
banners. From all sides poured in gifts of grain.
When Yuan Shao received Cao Cao’s call to
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arms, he collected all those under his command to
the number of thirty thousand. Then he marched
from Bohai to Qiao to take the oath to Cao Cao. Next
a manifesto was issued:
“Cao Cao and his associates, moved by a sense
of duty, now make this proclamation. Dong Zhuo
defies Heaven
and Earth. He is destroying the state and injuring
his prince. He pollutes the Palace and oppresses the
people. He is vicious and cruel. His crimes are
heaped up. Now we have received a secret
command to call up soldiers, and we are pledged to
cleanse the empire and destroy the evil−doers. We
will raise a volunteer army and exert all our efforts to
maintain the dynasty and succor the people.
Respond to this, O Nobles, by mustering your
soldiers.”
Many from every side answered the summons as
the following list shows:
.1. Governor of Nanyang—Yuan Shu;
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.2. Imperial Protector of Jizhou Region—Han Fu;
.3. Imperial Protector of Yuzhou Region—Kong
Zhou;
.4. Imperial Protector of Yanzhou Region—Liu
Dai;
.5. Governor of Henei—Wang Kuang;
.6. Governor of Chenliu—Zhang Miao;
.7. Governor of Dongjun—Qiao Mao;
.8. Governor of Shanyang—Yuan Yi;
.9. Lord of Jibei—Bao Xin;
.10. Governor of Beihai—Kong Rong;
.11. Governor of Guangling —Zhang Chao;
.12. Imperial Protector of Xuzhou Region—Tao
Qian;
.13. Governor of Xiliang—Ma Teng;
.14. Governor of Beiping—Gongsun Zan;
.15. Governor of Shangdang—Zhang Yang;
.16. Governor of Changsha—Sun Jian;
.17. Governor of Bohai—Yuan Shao.
These contingents varied in size, from ten
thousand to thirty thousand, but each was complete
in itself with its officers, civil and military, and
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battle−leaders. They were heading for Capital
Luoyang.
The Governor of Beiping, Gongsun Zan, while on
his way with his force of fifteen thousand, passed
through the county of Pingyuan. There he saw
among the mulberry trees a yellow flag under which
marched a small company. When they drew nearer
he saw the leader was Liu Bei.
“Good brother, what do you here?” asked
Gongsun Zan.
“You were kind to me once, and on your
recommendation I was made the magistrate of this
county. I heard you were passing through and came
to salute you. May I pray you, my elder brother, enter
into the city and rest your steed?”
“Who are these two?” said Gongsun Zan, pointing
to Liu Bei’s brothers.
“These are Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, my sworn
brothers.”
“Were they fighting with you against the Yellow
Scarves rebels?” asked Gongsun Zan.
“All my success was due to their efforts,” said Liu
Bei.
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“And what offices do they fill?”
“Guan Yu is a mounted archer; Zhang Fei is a
foot archer.”
“Thus are able humans buried!” said Gongsun
Zan, sighing. Then he continued. “All the highest in
the land are now going to destroy the rebellious
Dong Zhuo. My brother, you would do better to
abandon this petty place and join us in restoring the
House of Han. Why not?”
“I should like to go,” said Liu Bei.
“If you had let me kill him that other time, you
would not have this trouble today,” said Zhang Fei to
Liu Bei and Guan Yu.
“Since things are so, let us pack and go,” said
Guan Yu.
So without more ado, the three brothers, with a
few horsemen, joined Gongsun Zan and marched
with him to join the great army.
One after another the feudal lords came up and
encamped. Their camps extended over seventy
miles and more. When all had arrived, Cao Cao, as
the head, prepared sacrificial bullocks and horses
and called all the lords to a great assembly to decide
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upon their plan of attack.
Then spoke the Governor of Henei, Wang Kuang,
“We have been moved by a noble sense of right to
assemble here. Now must we first choose a chief
and bind ourselves to obedience.”
Then said Cao Cao, “For four generations the
highest offices of state have been filled by members
of the Yuan family, and its clients and supporters are
everywhere. As a descendant of ancient ministers of
Han, Yuan Shao is a suitable man to be our chief
lord.”
Yuan Shao again and again declined this honor.
But they all said, “It must be he; there is no other!”
And then he agreed.
So the next day a three−story altar was built, and
they planted about it the banners of all parties in five
directions of space. And they set up white yaks’ tails
and golden axes and emblems of military authority
and the seals of leadership round about.
All being ready, the chief lord was invited to
ascend the altar. Clad in ceremonial robes and
girded with a sword, Yuan Shao reverently
ascended. There he burned incense, made
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obeisance and recited the oath:
“The House of Han has fallen upon evil days, the
bands of imperial authority are loosened. The rebel
minister, Dong Zhuo, takes advantage of the discord
to work evil, and calamity falls upon honorable
families. Cruelty overwhelms simple folks. We, Yuan
Shao and his confederates, fearing for the safety of
the imperial prerogatives, have assembled military
forces to rescue the state. We now pledge ourselves
to exert our whole strength and act in concord to the
utmost limit of our powers. There must be no
disconcerted or selfish action. Should any depart
from this pledge, may he lose his life and leave no
posterity. Almighty Heaven and Universal Earth and
the enlightened spirits of our forebears, be ye our
witnesses.”
The reading finished, Yuan Shao smeared the
blood of the sacrifice upon his lips and upon the lips
of those who shared the pledge. All were deeply
affected by the ceremony and many shed tears. This
done, the chief lord was supported down from the
high place and led to his tent, where he took the
highest place and the others arranged themselves
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according to rank and age. Here wine was served.
Presently Cao Cao said, “It behooves us all to
obey the chief we have this day set up, and support
the state. There must be no feeling of rivalry or
superiority based upon numbers.”
Yuan Shao replied, “Unworthy as I am, yet as
elected chief I must impartially reward merit and
punish offenses. Let each see to it that he obeys the
national laws and the army precepts. These must not
be broken.”
“Only thy commands are to be obeyed!” cried all.
Then Yuan Shao said, “My brother, Yuan Shu, is
appointed Chief of the Commissariat. He must see to
it that the whole camp is well supplied. But the need
of the moment is a van leader who shall go to River
Si Pass and provoke a battle. The other forces must
take up strategic positions in support.”
Then the Governor of Changsha, Sun Jian,
offered himself for this service.
“You are valiant and fierce, and equal to this
service,” said Yuan Shao.
The force under Sun Jian set out and presently
came to River Si Pass. The guard there sent a swift
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rider to the capital to announce to the Prime Minister
the urgency of the situation.
Ever since Dong Zhuo had secured his position,
he had given himself up to luxury without stint. When
the urgent news reached the adviser Li Ru, he at
once went to his master, who much alarmed called a
great council.
Lu Bu stood forth and said, “Do not fear, my
father; I look upon all the lords beyond the passes as
so much stubble. And with the warriors of our fierce
army, I will put every one of them to death and hang
their heads at the gates of the capital.”
“With your aid I can sleep secure,” said Dong
Zhuo.
But some one behind Lu Bu broke in upon his
speech saying, “An ox−cleaver to kill a chicken!
There is no need for the General to go; I will cut off
their heads as easily as I would take a thing out of
my pocket.”
Dong Zhuo looked up and his eyes rested on a
stalwart man of fierce mien, lithe and supple as a
beast. He had round head like a leopard and
shoulders like an ape’s. His name was Hua Xiong of
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Guanxi. Dong Zhuo rejoiced at Hua Xiong’s bold
words and at once appointed him Commander of
Royal Cavaliers and gave him fifty thousand of horse
and foot. Hua Xiong and three other generals—Li
Su, Hu Zhen, and Zhao Cen—hastily moved toward
River Si Pass.
Among the feudal lords, Bao Xin, the Lord of
Jibei, was jealous lest the chosen Van Leader Sun
Jian should win too great honors. Wherefore Bao Xin
endeavored to meet the foe first, and so he secretly
dispatched his brother, Bao Zhong, with three
thousand by a bye road. As soon as this small force
reached the Pass, they offered battle. Fast reacting,
Hua Xiong at the head of five hundred armored
horsemen swept down from the Pass crying, “Flee
not, rebel!”
But Bao Zhong was afraid and turned back. Hua
Xiong came on, his arm rose, the sword fell, and Bao
Zhong was cut down from his horse. Most of Bao
Zhong’s company were captured. Bao Zhong’s head
was sent to the Prime Minister’s palace. Hua Xiong
was promoted to Commander in Chief. Sun Jian
presently approached the Pass. He had four
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generals: Cheng Pu of Tuyin whose weapon was an
iron−spined lance with snake−headed blade; Huang
Gai of Lingling who wielded an iron whip; Han Dang
of Lingzhi using a heavy saber; and Zu Mao of
Wujun who fought with a pair of swords.
Commander Sun Jian wore a helmet of fine silver
wrapped round with a purple turban. He carried
across his body his sword of ancient ingot iron and
rode a dappled horse with flowing mane.
Sun Jian advanced to the Pass and hailed the
defenders, crying, “Helpers of a villain! Be quick to
surrender!”
Hua Xiong bade Hu Zhen lead five thousand out
against Sun Jian. Cheng Pu with the snaky lance
rode out from Sun Jian’s side and engaged. After a
very few bouts, Cheng Pu killed Hu Zhen on the spot
by a thrust through the throat. Then Sun Jian gave
the signal for the main army to advance. But from the
Pass, Hua Xiong’s troops rained down showers of
stones, which proved too much for the assailants,
and they retired into camp at Liangdong. Sun Jian
sent the report of victory to Yuan Shao.
Sun Jian also sent an urgent message for
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supplies to the commissary. But a counselor said to
the Controller Yuan Shu, “This Sun Jian is a very
tiger in the east. Should he take the capital and
destroy Dong Zhuo, we should have a tiger in place
of a wolf. Do not send him grain. Starve his troops
and that will decide the fate of that army.”
And Yuan Shu gave ears to the detractor and
sent no grain or forage. Soon Sun Jian’s hungry
soldiers showed their disaffection by indiscipline, and
the spies bore the news to the defenders of the
Pass.
Li Ru made a plot with Hua Xiong, saying, “We
will launch tonight a speedy attack against Sun Jian
in front and rear so that we can capture him.”
Hua Xiong agreed and prepared for the attack. So
the soldiers of the attacking force were told off and
given a full meal. At dark they left the Pass and crept
by secret paths to the rear of Sun Jian’s camp. The
moon was bright and the wind cool. They arrived
about midnight and the drums beat an immediate
attack. Sun Jian hastily donned his fighting gear and
rode out. He ran straight into Hua Xiong and the two
warriors engaged. But before they had exchanged
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many passes, Li Ru’s army came up from behind
and set fire to whatever would burn.
Sun Jian’s army were thrown into confusion and
fled in disorder. A general melee ensued, and soon
only Zu Mao was left at Sun Jian’s side. These two
broke through the Pass and fled. Hua Xiong coming
in hot pursuit, Sun Jian took his bow and let fly two
arrows in quick succession, but both missed. He
fitted a third arrow to the string, but drew the bow so
fiercely that it snapped. He cast the bow to the earth
and set off at full gallop.
Then spoke Zu Mao, “My lord’s purple turban is a
mark that the rebels will too easily recognize. Give it
to me and I will wear it.”
So Sun Jian exchanged his silver helmet with the
turban for his general’s headpiece, and the two men
parted, riding different ways. The pursuers looking
only for the purple turban went after its wearer, and
Sun Jian escaped along a by−road.
Zu Mao, hotly pursued, then tore off the
headdress which he hung on the post of a
half−burned house as he passed and dashed into
the thick woods. Hua Xiong’s troops seeing the
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purple turban standing motionless dared not
approach, but they surrounded it on every side and
shot at it with arrows. Presently they discovered the
trick, went up and seized it. This was the moment
that Zu Mao awaited. At once he rushed forth, his
two swords whirling about, and dashed at the leader.
But Hua Xiong was too quick. With a loud yell, Hua
Xiong slashed at Zu Mao and cut him down the
horse. Hua Xiong and Li Ru continued the slaughter
till the day broke, and they led their troops back to
the Pass.
Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang in time
found their chief and the soldiers gathered. Sun Jian
was much grieved at the loss of Zu Mao.
When news of the disaster reached Yuan Shao,
he was greatly chagrined and called all the lords to a
council. They assembled and Gongsun Zan was the
last to arrive. When all were seated in the tent Yuan
Shao said, “The brother of General Bao Xin,
disobeying the rules we made for our guidance,
rashly went to attack the enemy; he was slain and
with him many of our soldiers. Now Sun Jian has
been defeated. Thus our fighting spirit has suffered
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and what is to be done?”
Every one was silent. Lifting his eyes, Yuan Shao
looked round from one to another till he came to
Gongsun Zan, and then he remarked three men who
stood behind Gongsun Zan’s seat. They were of
striking appearance as they stood there, all three
smiling cynically.
“Who are those men behind you?” said Yuan
Shao.
Gongsun Zan told Liu Bei to come forward, and
said, “This is Liu Bei, Magistrate of Pingyuan and a
brother of mine who shared my humble cottage
when we were students.”
“It must be the Liu Bei who broke up the Yellow
Scarves rebellion,” said Cao Cao.
“It is he,” said Gongsun Zan, and he ordered Liu
Bei to make his obeisance to the assembly, to whom
Liu Bei then related his services and his origin, all in
full detail.
“Since he is of the Han line, he should be seated,”
said Yuan Shao, and he bade Liu Bei sit.
Liu Bei modestly thanked him, declining.
Said Yuan Shao, “This consideration is not for
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your fame and office; I respect you as a scion of the
imperial family.”
So Liu Bei took his seat in the lowest place of the
long line of lords. And his two brothers with folded
arms took their stations behind him.
Even as they were at this meeting came in a
scout to say that Hua Xiong with a company of
mail−clad horsemen was coming down from the
Pass. They were flaunting Sun Jian’s captured
purple turban on the end of a bamboo pole. The
enemy was soon hurling insults at those within the
stockade and challenging them to fight.
“Who dares go out to give battle?” said Yuan
Shao.
“I will go,” said Yu She, a renown general of Yuan
Shu, stepping forward.
So Yu She went, and almost immediately one
came back to say that Yu She had fallen in the third
bout of Hua Xiong.
Fear began to lay its cold hand on the assembly.
Then Imperial Protector Han Fu said, “I have a brave
warrior among my army. Pan Feng is his name, and
he could slay this Hua Xiong.”
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So Pan Feng was ordered out to meet the foe.
With his great battle−ax in his hand, Pan Feng
mounted and rode forth. But soon came the direful
tidings that General Pan Feng too had fallen. The
faces of the gathering paled at this.
“What a pity my two able generals, Yan Liang and
Wen Chou, are not here! Then should we have some
one who would not fear this Hua Xiong,” said Yuan
Shao.
He had not finished when from the lower end a
voice tolled, “I will go, take Hua Xiong’s head, and
lay it before you here.”
All turned to look at the speaker. He was tall and
had a long beard. His eyes were those of a phoenix
and his eyebrows thick and bushy like silkworms. His
face was a swarthy red and his voice deep as the
sound of a great bell.
“Who is he?” asked Yuan Shao.
Gongsun Zan told them it was Guan Yu, brother
of Liu Bei.
“And what is he?” asked Yuan Shao.
“He is in the train of Liu Bei as a mounted archer.”
“What! An insult to us all!” roared Yuan Shu from
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his place. “Have we no leader? How dare an archer
speak thus before us? Let us beat him forth!”
But Cao Cao intervened. “Peace, O Yuan Shu!
Since this man speaks great words, he is certainly
valiant. Let him try. If he fails, then we may reproach
him.”
“Hua Xiong will laugh at us if we send a mere
archer to fight him,” said Yuan Shao.
“This man looks no common person. And how
can the enemy know he is but a bowman?” said Cao
Cao.
“If I fail, then can you take my head,” spoke Guan
Yu.
Cao Cao bade them heat some wine and offered
a cup to Guan Yu as he went out.
“Pour it out,” said Guan Yu. “I shall return in a
little space.”
Guan Yu went with his weapon in his hand and
vaulted into the saddle. Those in the tent heard the
fierce roll of the drums and then a mighty sound as if
skies were falling and earth rising, hills trembling and
mountains tearing asunder. And they were sore
afraid. And while they were listening with ears intent,
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lo! the gentle tinkle of horse bells, and Guan Yu
returned, throwing at their feet the head of the slain
leader, their enemy Hua Xiong.
The wine was still warm!
This doughty deed has been celebrated in verse:
The power of the man stands first in all the world;
At the gate of the camp was heard the rolling of
the battle drums;
Then Guan Yu set aside the wine cup till he
should have displayed his valor,
And the wine was still warm when Hua Xiong had
been slain.
Cao Cao was greatly excited at this success. But
Zhang Fei’s voice was heard, shouting, “My brother
has slain Hua Xiong. What are we waiting for? Why
not break through the Pass and seize Dong Zhuo?
Could there have been a better time?”
Again arose the angry voice of Yuan Shu, “We
high officials are too meek and yielding. Here is the
petty follower of a small magistrate daring to flaunt
his prowess before us! Expel him from the tent, I
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say.”
But again Cao Cao interposed, “Shall we consider
the station of him who has done a great service?”
“If you hold a mere magistrate in such honor, then
I simply withdraw,” said Yuan Shu.
“Is a word enough to defeat a grand enterprise?”
said Cao Cao.
Then he told Gongsun Zan to lead the three
brothers back to their own camp, and the other
chiefs then dispersed. That night Cao Cao secretly
sent presents of meat and wine to soothe the three
after this adventure.
When Hua Xiong’s troops straggled back and told
the story of defeat and death, Li Ru was greatly
distressed. He wrote urgent letters to his master who
called in his trusted advisers to a council.
Li Ru summed up the situation, saying, “We have
lost our best leader, and the rebel power has thereby
become very great. Yuan Shao is at the head of this
confederacy, and his uncle, Yuan Wei, is holder of
the office of Imperial Guardianship. If those in the
capital combine with those in the country, we may
suffer. Therefore we must remove them. So I request
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you, Sir Prime Minister, to place yourself at the head
of your army and break this confederation.”
Dong Zhuo agreed and at once ordered his two
generals, Li Jue and Guo Si, to take five hundred
troops and surround the residence of Imperial
Guardian Yuan Wei, slay every soul regardless of
age, and hang the head of Yuan Wei outside the
gate as trophy. And Dong Zhuo commanded two
hundred thousand troops to advance in two armies.
The first fifty thousand were under Li Jue and Guo
Si, and they were to hold River Si Pass. They should
not necessarily fight. The other one hundred fifty
thousand under Dong Zhuo himself went to Tiger
Trap Pass. His counselors and commanders—Li Ru,
Lu Bu, Fan Chou, Zhang Ji, and others—marched
with the main army.
Tiger Trap Pass is fifteen miles from Capital
Luoyang. As soon as they arrived, Dong Zhuo bade
Lu Bu take thirty thousand soldiers and make a
strong stockade on the outside of the Pass. The
main body with Dong Zhuo would occupy the Pass.
News of this movement reaching the confederate
lords. Yuan Shao summoned a council.
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Said Cao Cao, “The occupation of the Pass would
cut our armies in two; therefore, must we oppose
Dong Zhuo’s army on the way.”
So eight of the commanders—Wang Kuang, Qiao
Mao, Bao Xin, Yuan Yi, Kong Rong, Zhang Yang,
Tao Qian, and Gongsun Zan—were ordered to go in
the direction of the Tiger Trap Pass to oppose their
enemy. Cao Cao and his troops moved among them
as reserve to render help where needed.
Of the eight, Wang Kuang, the Governor of
Henei, was the first to arrive, and Lu Bu went to give
battle with three thousand armored horsemen. When
Wang Kuang had ordered his army, horse and foot,
in battle array, he took his station under the great
banner and looked over at his foe.
Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in front of the
line. On his head was a triple curved headdress of
ruddy gold with pheasant tails. He wore a warring
velvet−red robe of Xichuan silk embroidered with
thousand flowers, which was overlapped by golden
mail adorned with a gaping animal’s head, joined by
rings at the sides and girt to his waist with a belt
fastened by a beautiful lion−head clasp. His bow and
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arrows were slung on his shoulders, and he carried a
long heavy trident halberd. He was seated on his
snorting steed Red−Hare. Indeed Lu Bu was the
man among humans, as Red−Hare was the horse
among horses.
“Who dares go out to fight him?” asked Wang
Kuang turning to those behind him.
In response a valiant general from Henei named
Fang Yue spurred to the front, his spear set ready for
battle. Lu Bu and Fang Yue met: before the fifth bout
Fang Yue fell under a thrust of the trident halberd,
and Lu Bu dashed forward. Wang Kuang’s troops
could not stand and scattered in all directions. Lu Bu
went to and fro slaying all he met. He was
irresistible.
Luckily, two other troops led by Qiao Mao and
Yuan Yi came up and rescued the wounded Wang
Kuang, and Lu Bu pulled back. The three, having lost
many troops, withdrew ten miles and made a
stockade. And before long the remaining five
commanders came up and joined them. They held a
council and agreed Lu Bu was a hero no one could
match.
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And while they sat there anxious and uncertain, it
was announced that Lu Bu had returned to challenge
them. They mounted their horses and placed
themselves at the heads of eight forces, each body
in its station on the high ground. Around them was
the opposing army in formation, commanded by Lu
Bu, innumerable horse and foot, with splendid
embroidered banners waving in the breeze.
They attacked Lu Bu. Mu Shun, a general of
Governor Zhang Yang, rode out with his spear set,
but soon fell at the first encounter with Lu Bu. This
frightened the others. Then galloped forth Wu
Anguo, a general under Governor Kong Rong. Wu
Anguo raised his iron mace ready at his rival. Lu Bu
whirling his halberd and urging on his steed came to
meet Wu Anguo. The two fought, well matched for
ten bouts, when a blow from the trident halberd
broke Wu Anguo’s wrist. Letting his mace fall to the
ground he fled. Then all eight of the lords led forth
their armies to his rescue, and Lu Bu retired to his
line.
The fighting then ceased, and after their return to
camp another council met. Cao Cao said, “No one
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can stand against the prowess of Lu Bu. Let us call
up all the lords and evolve some good plan. If only
Lu Bu were taken, Dong Zhuo could easily be killed.”
While the council was in progress again came Lu
Bu to challenge them, and again the commanders
moved out against him. This time Gongsun Zan,
flourishing his spear, went to meet the enemy. After
a very few bouts Gongsun Zan turned and fled; Lu
Bu following at the topmost speed of Red−Hare.
Red−Hare was a five−hundred−mile−a−day horse,
swift as the wind. The lords watched Red−Hare
gained rapidly upon the flying horseman, and Lu Bu’s
halberd was poised ready to strike Gongsun Zan just
behind the heart. Just then dashed in a third rider
with round glaring eyes and a bristling mustache,
and armed with a ten−foot octane−serpent halberd.
“Stay, O twice bastard!” roared he, “I, Zhang Fei
of Yan, await you.” ((Yan was an ancient state.))
Seeing this opponent, Lu Bu left the pursuit of
Gongsun Zan and engaged the new adversary.
Zhang Fei was elated, and he rode forth with all his
energies. They two were worthily matched, and they
exchanged half a hundred bouts with no advantage
Three Kingdoms Romance
to either side. Then Guan Yu, impatient, rode out
with his huge and weighty green−dragon saber and
attacked Lu Bu on the other flank. The three steeds
formed a triangle and their riders battered away at
each other for thirty bouts, yet still Lu Bu stood firm.
Then Liu Bei rode out to his brothers’ aid, his
double swords raised ready to strike. The steed with
the flowing mane was urged in at an angle, and now
Lu Bu had to contend with three surrounding warriors
at whom he struck one after another, and they at
him, the flashing of the warriors’ weapons looking
like the revolving lamps suspended at the new year.
And the warriors of the eight armies gazed rapt with
amazement at such a battle.
But Lu Bu’s guard began to weaken and fatigue
seized him. Looking hard in the face of Liu Bei, Lu
Bu feigned a fierce thrust thus making Liu Bei
suddenly draw back. Then, lowering his halberd, Lu
Bu dashed through the angle thus opened and got
away.
But was it likely they would allow him to escape?
They whipped their steeds and followed hard. The
soldiers of the eight armies cracked their throats with
Three Kingdoms Romance
thunderous cheers and all dashed forward, pressing
after Lu Bu as he made for the shelter of the Tiger
Trap Pass. And first among his pursuers were the
three brothers.
An ancient poet has told of this famous fight in
these lines:
The fateful day of Han came in the reigns of Huan
and Ling,
Their glory declined as the sun sinks at the close
of day.
Dong Zhuo, infamous minister of state, pulled
down the youthful Bian.
It is true the new Xian was a weakling, too timid
for his times.
Then Cao Cao proclaimed abroad these wicked
deeds,
And the great lords, moved with anger,
assembled their forces.
In council met they and chose as their oath−chief
Yuan Shao,
Pledged themselves to maintain the ruling house
and tranquillity.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Of the warriors of that time matchless Lu Bu was
the boldest.
His valor and prowess are sung by all within the
four seas.
He clothed his body in silver armor like the scales
of a dragon,
On his head was a golden headdress with
pheasant tails,
About his waist a shaggy belt, the clasp, two wild
beasts’ heads with gripping jaws,
His flowing, embroidered robe fluttered about his
form,
His swift courser bounded over the plain, a mighty
wind following,
His terrible trident halberd flashed in the sunlight,
bright as a placid lake.
Who dared face him as he rode forth to
challenge?
The bowels of the confederate lords were torn
with fear and their hearts trembled.
Then leaped forth Zhang Fei, the valiant warrior
of the north,
G r i p p e d i n h i s m i g h t y h a n d t h e l o n g
Three Kingdoms Romance
octane−serpent halberd,
His mustache bristled with anger, standing stiff
like wire.
His round eyes glared, lightning flashes darted
from them.
Neither quailed in the fight, but the issue was
undecided.
Guan Yu stood out in front, his soul vexed within
him,
His green−dragon saber shone white as frost in
the sunlight,
His bright colored fighting robe fluttered like
butterfly wings,
Demons and angels shrieked at the thunder of his
horse hoofs,
In his eyes was fierce anger, a fire to be
quenched only in blood.
Next Liu Bei joined the battle, gripping his twin
sword blades,
The heavens themselves trembled at the majesty
of his wrath.
These three closely beset Lu Bu and long drawn
out was the battle,
Three Kingdoms Romance
Always he warded their blows, never faltering a
moment.
The noise of their shouting rose to the sky, and
the earth reechoed it,
The heat of battle ranged to the frozen pole star.
Worn out, feeling his strength fast ebbing, Lu Bu
thought to flee,
He glanced at the hills around and thither would
fly for shelter,
Then, reversing his halberd and lowering its lofty
point,
Hastily he fled, loosing himself from the battle;
With head low bent, he gave the rein to his
courser,
Turned his face away and fled to Tiger Trap Pass.
The three brothers maintained the pursuit to the
Pass. Looking up they saw an immense umbrella of
black gauze fluttering in the west wind.
“Certainly there is Dong Zhuo,” cried Zhang Fei.
“What is the use of pursuing Lu Bu? Better far seize
the chiefest rebel and so pluck up the evil by the
roots.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
And he whipped up his steed toward the Pass.
To quell rebellion seize the leader if you can;
If you need a wondrous service then first find a
wondrous man.
The following chapters will unfold the result of the
battle.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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