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CHAPTER 90. Chasing Off Wild Beasts, The Prime Minister Defeats The Mangs For The Sixth Time; Burning Rattan Armors, Zhuge Liang Captures Meng Huo The Seventh Time.

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

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All the prisoners were released; and Yang Feng
and his sons were rewarded with ranks, and his
people were given presents. They expressed their
gratitude and returned to their own, while Meng Huo
and his brother hastened home to Silver Pit Hills.
Outside this ravine were three rivers—River Lu,
River Gannan, and River Xicheng. These three
streams united to form Three Rivers. Close to the
ravine on the north was a wide and fruitful plain; on
the west were salt wells. The River Lu flowed about
seventy miles to the southwest, and due south was a
valley called the Liangdu Ravine. There were hills in,
as well as surrounding, the ravine, and in these they
found silver; whence the name “Silver Pit.”
A palace complex had been built in the ravine,
which the Mang kings had made their stronghold,
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and there was an ancestral temple, which they called
“Family Spirits,” where they solemnized sacrifices of
bulls and horses at the four seasons. They called
these sacrifices “Inquiring of the Spirits.” Human
sacrifices were offered also, humans of Shu or of
their own people belonging to other villages. The sick
swallowed no drugs, but prayed to a chief sorcerer,
called “Drug Demon.” There was no legal code, the
only punishment for every transgression being death.
When girls are grown and become women, they
bathe in a stream. Men and women are kept
separate, and they marry whom they will, the parents
having no control in that particular. There was no
formal vocational training. In good seasons the
country produces grain, but if the harvest fails, they
make soup out of serpents and eat boiled elephant
flesh.
All over the country the head of the family of
greatest local consideration is termed “King of the
Ravine,” and the next in importance is called a
“Notable.” A market is held in the city of Three
Rivers, on the first day of every moon, and another
on the fifteenth; goods are brought in and bartered.
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In his own ravine, Meng Huo gathered his family
and clan to the number of a thousand or more and
addressed them: “I have been put to shame by the
leaders of Shu many times, and I have sworn to take
revenge for the insults. Has anyone any proposal to
make?”
Thereupon a certain one replied, saying, “I can
produce a man able to defeat Zhuge Liang.”
The assembly turned to the speaker, who was a
brother of Meng Huo’s wife. He was the head of eight
tribes of the Southern Mangs, and was named Chief
Dai Lai.
“Who is the man?” asked Meng Huo.
Chief Dai Lai replied, “He is Mu Lu, King of the
Bana Ravine. He is a master of witchcraft who can
call up the wind and invoke the rain. He rides upon
an elephant and is attended by tigers, leopards,
wolves, venomous snakes, and scorpions. Beside,
he has under his hand thirty thousand superhuman
soldiers. He is very bold. O King, write him a letter
and send him presents, which I will deliver. If he will
consent to lend his aid, what fear have we of Shu?”
Meng Huo was pleased with the scheme and
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ordered Dai Lai to draft a letter. Then he ordered
Duo Si to defend Three Rivers and make the first line
of defense.
Zhuge Liang led his troops near the city of Three
Rivers. Taking a survey of the country, he noted that
the city was surrounded by the three rivers and could
only be reached by a bank on one face, so he sent
Wei Yan and Zhao Yun to march along the road and
attack. But when they reached the rampart, they
found it well defended by bows and crossbows.
The defenders of the city were adepts in the use
of the bow, and they had one sort which discharged
ten arrows at once. Furthermore, the arrows were
poisoned, and a wound meant certain death. The
two generals saw that they could not succeed, and
so retired.
When Zhuge Liang heard of the poisoned arrows,
he mounted his light chariot and went to see for
himself. Having regarded the defenses, he returned
to his camp and ordered a retirement of three miles.
This move delighted the Mangs, who congratulated
each other on their success in driving off the
besiegers, who, as they concluded, had been
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frightened away. So they gave themselves up to
rejoicing and kept no watch. Nor did they even send
out scouts.
The army of Shu made a strong camp in their
new halting place and closed the gates for defense.
For five days they gave no sign. One evening, just at
sunset, a slight breeze began to blow. Then Zhuge
Liang issued an order: “Every man should provide
himself with a coat by the first watch. If any one
lacks, he will be put to death.”
None of the generals knew what was in the wind,
but the order was obeyed. Next, each man was
ordered to fill his coat with earth. This order
appeared equally strange, but it was carried out.
When all were ready, they were told: “You are to
carry the earth to the foot of the city wall, and the first
arrivals will be rewarded.”
So they ran with all speed with the dry earth and
reached the wall. Then with the earth they were
ordered to make a raised way, and the first soldier
on the wall was promised a reward.
The whole of the one hundred thousand troops of
Shu, and their native allies, having thrown their
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burdens of earth near the wall, then quickly rushed
up the incline, and with one great shout were on the
wall. The archers on the wall were seized and
dragged down; those who got clear ran away into the
city. King Duo Si was slain in the melee that followed
on this attack. The soldiers of Shu moved through
the city slaying all they met. Thus was the city
captured and with it great booty of jewels, which
were made over to the army as a reward for their
prowess.
The few soldiers who escaped went away and
told Meng Huo what had happened to the city and
King Duo Si. Meng Huo was much distressed.
Before he had recovered, they told him that the army
of Shu had come over and were encamped at the
mouth of his own ravine.
Just as he was in the very depths of distress, a
laugh came from behind the screen, and a woman
appeared, saying, “Though you are brave, how
stupid you are! I am only a woman, but I want to go
out and fight.”
The woman was his wife, Lady Zhurong. She was
a descendant of the Zhurong family of the Southern
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Mang. She was expert in the use of the flying sword
and never missed her aim.
Meng Huo rose and bowed to her. Lady Zhurong
thereupon mounted a horse and forthwith marched
out at the head of a hundred generals, leading fifty
thousand troops of the ravines, and set out to drive
off the troops of Shu.
Just as the host got clear of the Silver Pit Palace,
it was stopped by a cohort led by Zhang Ni. At once
the Mangs deployed, and the lady leader armed
herself with five swords such as she used. In one
hand she held an eighteen−foot signal staff, and she
sat a curly−haired, reddish horse.
Zhang Ni was secretly troubled at the sight before
him, but he engaged the lady commander. After a
few passes the lady turned her steed and bolted.
Zhang Ni went after her, but a sword came flying
through the air directly at him. He tried to fend off
with one hand, but it wounded his arm, and he fell to
the ground. The Mangs gave a loud shout; some of
them pounced on the unlucky leader and made him
prisoner.
Then Ma Zhong, hearing his comrade had been
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taken, rushed out to rescue, but only to be
surrounded. He saw the lady commander holding up
her staff and made a dash forward, but just then the
Mangs threw hooks and pulled down his steed, and
he was also a prisoner.
Both generals were taken into the ravine and led
before the King. He gave a banquet in honor of his
wife’s success, and during the feast the lady bade
the lictors put the two prisoners to death. They
hustled the two generals in and were just going to
carry out their orders when Meng Huo checked
them.
“No; five times has Zhuge Liang set me at liberty.
It would be unjust to put these to death. Confine
them till we have taken their chief; then we may
execute them.”
His wife was merry with wine and did not object.
So their lives were spared.
The defeated soldiers returned to their camp.
Zhuge Liang took steps to retrieve the mishap by
sending for Ma Dai, Zhao Yun, and Wei Yan, to each
of whom he gave special and private orders.
Next day the Mang soldiers reported to the King
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that Zhao Yun was offering a challenge. Lady
Zhurong forthwith mounted and rode out to battle.
She engaged Zhao Yun, who soon fled. The lady
was too prudent to risk pursuit, and rode home. Then
Wei Yan repeated the challenge; he also fled as if
defeated. But again the lady declined to pursue. Next
day Zhao Yun repeated his challenge and ran away
as before. Lady Zhurong signaled no pursuit. But at
this Wei Yan rode up and opened a volley of abuse
and obloquy. This proved too much, and she gave
the signal to go after him and led the way. Wei Yan
increased his pace, and the lady commander
doubled hers, and she and her followers pressed into
a narrow road along a valley. Suddenly behind her
was heard a noise, and Wei Yan, turning his head,
saw the lady tumble out of her saddle.
She had rushed into an ambush prepared by Ma
Dai; her horse had been tripped up by ropes. She
was captured, bound, and carried off to the Shu
camp. Some of her people endeavored to rescue
her, but they were driven off.
Zhuge Liang seated himself in his tent to see his
prisoner, and Lady Zhurong was led up. He bade
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them remove her bonds, and she was conducted to
another tent, where wine was laid before her. Then a
message was sent to Meng Huo to say that she
would be exchanged for the two captive leaders. The
King agreed, and they were set free. As soon as they
arrived, the lady was escorted by Zhuge Liang
himself to the mouth of the ravine, where Meng Huo
welcomed her half gladly, half angrily.
Then they told Meng Huo of the coming of the
King of the Bana Ravine, and he went out to meet
Mu Lu. Mu Lu rode up on his white elephant,
dressed in silks, and with many gold and pearl
ornaments. He wore a double sword at his belt, and
he was followed by the motley pack of fighting
animals that he fed, gamboling and dancing about
him. Meng Huo made him a low obeisance and then
poured out his tale of woes. Mu Lu promised to
avenge his wrongs and was led off to a banquet
which had been prepared.
Next day the deliverer went out to battle, with his
pack of wild creatures in his train. Zhao Yun and his
colleague Wei Yan quickly made their array of
footmen and then took their station in front side by
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side and studied their opponents. The Mang banners
and weapons were all extraordinary. Most of the
warriors wore no armor and none wore any clothing.
Their faces were sunburned. They carried four sharp
pointed knives in their belts. Signals were not given
by drum or trumpet, but by a gong.
King Mu Lu had two swords in his belt and carried
a hand bell. He urged his white elephant forward and
emerged from between his flags.
“We have spent all our life in the battlefields, but
we have never seen the like of that before,” said
Zhao Yun.
As they talked to one another, they noticed that
the opposing leader was mumbling something that
might be a spell or a curse, and from time to time he
rang his bell. Then suddenly the wind got up, stones
began to roll and sand to fly, and there was a sound
as of a heavy shower of rain. Next a horn rang out,
and thereupon the tigers and the leopards, and the
wolves and the serpents, and all the other wild
beasts came down on the wind snapping and
clawing. How could the soldiers of Shu stand such a
thing as that? So they retreated, and the Mangs
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came after them fiercely, chasing and slaying their
enemies as far as the city of Three Rivers.
Zhao Yun and Wei Yan mustered their defeated
troops and went to their leader to confess their
failure. Zhuge Liang, however, was neither angry nor
dejected.
“The fault is not yours,” he said. “Long ago, when
I was still in my rustic hut, I knew the Mangs
possessed certain powers over beasts, and I
provided against this adventure before we left Shu.
You will find twenty big sealed carts in the baggage
train. We will use half of them now.”
He bade his staff bring forward ten of the red
box−carts. They all wondered what would happen.
Then the carts were opened, and they turned out to
be carved and colored models of huge wild beasts,
with coats of worsted, teeth and claws of steel; each
could accommodate ten people. Choosing one
hundred beasts, he told off a thousand troops and
bade them stuff the mouths of the beasts full of
inflammables.
Next day the army of Shu marched out to the
attack and were arrayed at the entrance to the Silver
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Pit Hills. The Mang soldiers went into the ravine and
told their king. Mu Lu, thinking himself perfectly
invincible, did not hesitate, but marched out, taking
Meng Huo with him. Zhuge Liang, dressed in the
simple robe of a Taoist, went out in his light chariot.
In his hand he held a feather fan. Meng Huo, who
recognized his enemy, pointed him out to Mu Lu.
“That is Zhuge Liang in that small chariot. If we
can only capture him, our task is done.”
Then Mu Lu began to mutter his spells and to ring
his bell. As before, the wind got up and blew with
violence, and the wild beasts came on.
But at a wave of the simple feather fan, lo! the
wind turned and blew the other way. Then from out
of the host of Shu there burst the horrible wild
beasts. The real wild beasts of the Mang saw
rushing down upon them huge creatures, whose
mouths vomited flames and whose nostrils breathed
out black smoke. They came along with jingling bells,
snapping and clawing, and the real beasts turned tail
and fled in among the host of their own side,
trampling them down as they sped. Zhuge Liang
gave the signal for a general onset, and his troops
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rushed forward with beating drums and blaring
trumpets. Mu Lu was killed in the melee. Meng Huo’s
whole clan fled in panic and tore up among the hills
out of the way. And thus the Silver Pit Hill was taken.
Next day, as Zhuge Liang was telling off parties to
search for and capture the King, it was announced
that the brother−in−law of Meng Huo, Chief Dai Lai,
having vainly tried to persuade the King to yield, had
made prisoners of him and his wife and all his clan
and were bringing them to Zhuge Liang.
Hearing this, Zhang Ni and Ma Zhong were called
and received certain orders, upon which they hid
themselves in the wings of the tent with a large body
of sturdy warriors. This done, Zhuge Liang ordered
the keepers to open the gates, and in came Chief
Dai Lai with Meng Huo and his people in custody. As
Dai Lai bowed at the entrance of the hall, Zhuge
Liang called out, “Let my strong captors appear!”
At once out came the hidden men, and every two
of them laid hands upon a prisoner and bound him.
“Did you think your paltry ruse would deceive
me?” said Zhuge Liang. “Here you are a second time
captured by your own people and brought before me
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that you might surrender. The first time I did not hurt
you. But now I firmly believe this surrender is part of
a plot to kill me.”
Then he called out to his guards to search the
prisoners. They did so, and on every man they found
a sharp knife.
“Did you not say that if your family were taken
prisoners you would yield? How now?” said Zhuge
Liang.
“We have come of our own will and at the risk of
our lives; the credit is not yours. Still I refuse to
yield,” replied Meng Huo.
“This is the sixth time I have captured you, and
yet you are obstinate; what do you expect?”
“If you take me a seventh time, then I will turn to
you and never rebel again.”
“Well, your stronghold is now destroyed. What
have I to fear?” said Zhuge Liang.
He ordered the bonds to be loosed, saying, “If
you are caught again and lie to me once more, I shall
certainly not be inclined to let you off.”
Meng Huo and his people put their hands over
their heads and ran off like rats.
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The defeated Mangs who had fled were of
thousands, and more than half of them were
wounded. They fell in with their King, who restored
what order was possible and felt glad that he had still
some leaders left. Then he and the Chief Dai Lai
took counsel together.
“Whither can we go?” said Meng Huo. “Our
stronghold is in the hands of the enemy.”
Dai Lai replied, “There is but one country that can
overcome these troops; that is the Wugo Kingdom. It
lies two hundred miles to the southeast. The King of
that state is named Wutu Gu. He is a giant of twelve
spans. He does not eat grain, but lives on serpents
and venomous beasts. He wears scaly armor, which
is impenetrable to swords and arrows. His warriors
wear rattan armor. This rattan grows in gullies,
climbing over rocks and walls. The inhabitants cut
the rattans and steep them in oil for half a year. Then
they are dried in the sun. When dry they are steeped
again, and so on many times. Then they are plaited
into helmets and armor. Clad in this, the men float
across rivers, and it does not get wet. No weapon
can penetrate it. The soldiers are called the Rattan
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Army. You may seek aid from this king, and with his
help you can take Zhuge Liang as easily as a sharp
knife cleaves a bamboo.” Meng Huo went to the
Wugo Kingdom and saw the King. The people of this
country do not live in houses, but dwell in caves.
Meng Huo told the story of his woes and obtained a
promise of help, for which he expressed great
gratitude. Wutu Gu called up two generals named Xi
Ni and Tu An and gave them thirty thousand of the
rattan−armored soldiers and bade them march
northeast.
They came to a river called the River of Peach
Flowers, on both banks of which grow many peach
trees. Year after year the leaves of these trees fall
into the river and render it poisonous to all but the
natives. But to the natives it is a stimulant which
doubles their vigor. They camped on the bank of this
river to await the coming of the army of Shu.
Now Zhuge Liang was informed of the journey of
Meng Huo and its results, and he knew when the
rattan−clad army camped at the ford. He also knew
that Meng Huo had collected all the soldiers of his
own that he could help. Zhuge Liang at once
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marched to the ford. He questioned the natives, and
they told him that the peach leaves were falling and
the water of the river was undrinkable. So he retired
two miles and camped. Only Wei Yan was left to
hold the bank of Peach Flowers.
Next day Wutu Gu led the Wugo warriors across
the stream, and, with a rolling of drums, Wei Yan
went out to meet them. The Wugo men approached
bent double. The soldiers of Shu shot at them, but
neither arrows nor bolts penetrated their armors;
they rolled off harmless. Nor could swords cut or
spears enter. The enemy, thus protected and armed
with big swords and prongs, were too much for the
troops of Shu, who had to run away. However, they
were not pursued. When, on the retreat, they came
to Peach Flower Ford, they saw the Mangs crossing
as if walking on the water. Some of them were tired,
so they took off their rattan breastplates, sat upon
them and floated to the other side.
When Zhuge Liang heard the report of his
general, he summoned Lu Kai and called in some
natives.
Lu Kai said, “I have heard of the Wugo Kingdom
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as perfectly barbarous, the people having no codes
of law as they are understood in the Middle Empire. I
have also heard of the rattan armor, which can
withstand all thrusts, and the harmful River of Peach
Flowers. The Southern Mangs are so untameable
that victory will mean little. We would rather retreat.”
“No, no,” said Zhuge Liang merrily, “we have had
too much difficulty in getting here to go back so
easily. I shall have a counter−plan for these people
tomorrow.”
Having provided for the defense of his camp, he
gave strict orders to his generals not to go out to
fight, Zhuge Liang went to reconnoiter. He rode in his
light chariot with a few natives as guides. He came to
the ford, and from a secluded spot in the mountains
on the north bank, he looked about him.
The whole country was mountainous and difficult,
impassable for any carriage. So he got out and went
afoot. Presently, from a hill he saw a long winding
valley, like a huge serpent. The sides were very
precipitous and bare. However, a road ran through
the middle.
“What is the name of the valley?” asked Zhuge
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Liang.
“It is called ‘Coiled Serpent Valley,’“ said the
guides. “At the other end you come into the high
road to Three Rivers. The road goes by a valley
called ‘Talang See.’“
“The very thing,” cried Zhuge Liang. “Surely this is
providence. I shall score a great success here.”
Having seen enough, he retraced his steps, found
his chariot, and returned to camp. Arrived at the
camp, Ma Dai was called and put in charge of the
preparations. Zhuge Liang gave him an order: “I will
give you the ten black painted carts, and you are to
get a thousand long bamboo poles. Open the carts,
and follow my instructions there. Then you are to
keep the two ends of the Coiled Serpent Valley. Half
a month is the deadline, and all of these must be
performed with the most perfect secrecy under
military law and punishment.”
Next Zhao Yun was sent to a point on the Three
River road; Wei Yan to camp at the Peach Flowers
Ford.
Zhuge Liang told Wei Yan, “If the Mangs come
over the river, you are to abandon the camp and
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march toward a certain white flag you will see.
Further, in half a month you would have to
acknowledge defeat some fifteen times and abandon
seven camps. On no account are you to come to
interview me even after fourteen defeats.”
Wei Yan went off, not a little hipped at the
prospect, but prepared to obey. Next, Zhang Yi was
sent to make a stockade at a certain indicated point,
and Zhang Ni and Ma Zhong was told to lead the
Mang soldiers who had surrendered, and other
orders were given.
Meng Huo had begun to have a real terror of
Zhuge Liang, and he warned King Wutu Gu of Wugo,
saying, “This Zhuge Liang is exceedingly crafty.
Ambush is one of his favorite ruses, so you should
warn your soldiers that on no account should they
enter a valley where the trees are thick.”
“Great King, you speak with reason,” said Wutu
Gu. “I have always heard that the people of the
Middle Empire are full of wiles, and I will see that
your advice is followed. I will go in front to fight, and
you may remain in the rear to give orders.”
Presently the scouts told them of the arrival of the
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troops of Shu on the bank of the Peach Flowers
River. Wutu Gu sent his two generals—Xi Ni and Tu
An—to cross the river and engage them. The two
sides met, but Wei Yan soon suffered a defeat and
left the field. The Mangs were afraid to pursue as
they dreaded an ambush.
In the meantime, Wei Yan laid out another camp.
The Mangs crossed the river in greater force. Wei
Yan came out to meet them, but again fled after a
very short fight. This time the Mangs pursued, but
having lost their hold of the enemy after three miles,
and coming then to the late camp of the Shu army,
which seemed quite safe, they occupied it.
Next day Xi Ni and Tu An asked their King Wutu
Gu to come to the camp, and they reported what had
happened. Wutu Gu decided to make a general
advance to drive the troops of Shu before him. They
fled, even casting aside their breastplates and
throwing away their arms; they were in such haste to
flee. And the troops of Shu went toward a white flag
that appeared in the distance. They found a camp
already made, which they occupied.
Soon, however, Wutu Gu came near, and as he
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pressed forward Wei Yan abandoned this camp and
fled. When the Mangs reached the camp, they took
up quarters therein.
Soon after they set out to renew the pursuit, but
Wei Yan turned back and checked them. This was
only a temporary check, for he fled after three
encounters, going toward a white flag in the
distance.
This sort of thing continued daily until the soldiers
of Shu had been defeated and driven out of the field
fifteen times and had abandoned their camp on
seven different occasions.
The Mangs were now hot in pursuit and pressed
on with all their might, Wutu Gu being in the forefront
of the pursuers. But then they came to a thick
umbrageous wood; and he halted, for he saw flags
moving about behind the sheltering trees.
“Just as you foretold,” said Wutu Gu to Meng
Huo. “The men of Shu like using ambush.”
“Yes; Zhuge Liang is going to be worsted this
time. We have beaten off his troops now daily for half
a month and won fifteen successive victories. His
troops simply run when they hear the wind. The fact
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is he has exhausted all his craft and has tried every
ruse. Now our task is nearly done.”
Wutu Gu was greatly cheered and began to feel
contempt for his enemy.
The sixteenth day of the long fight found Wei Yan
leading his oft−defeated troops once more against
the rattan−protected foe. King Wutu Gu on his white
elephant was well in the forefront. He had on a cap
with symbols of the sun and moon and streamers of
wolf’s beard, a fringed garment studded with gems,
which allowed the plates or scales of his cuirass to
appear, and his eyes seemed to flash fire. He
pointed the finger of scorn at Wei Yan and began to
revile him.
Wei Yan whipped up his steed and fled. The
Mangs pressed after him. Wei Yan made for the
Coiled Serpent Valley, for he saw a white flag calling
him thither. Wutu Gu followed in hot haste, and as he
saw only bare hills without a sign of vegetation, he
felt quite confident that no ambush was laid. So he
followed into the valley. There he saw some score of
black painted carts in the road.
The soldiers said to each other, “The carts must
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be the commissariat wagons of the enemy,
abandoned in their hasty flight when they heard of
the coming of Your Majesty.”
This only urged the King to greater speed, and he
went on toward the other mouth of the valley, for the
soldiers of Shu had disappeared. However, he saw
piles of timber being tumbled down across the track
and great boulders rolled down the hill side into the
road. The pursuers cleared away the obstacles.
When they had done so and advanced a little, they
saw certain wheeled vehicles in the road, some
large, some small, laden with wood and straw, which
was burning. Wutu Gu was suddenly frightened and
ordered a retreat.
But he heard much shouting in the rear, and they
told him: “The exit has been blocked with
wood−laden carts, which on being broken open are
found to contain gunpowder, and they are all on fire.”
However, seeing that the valley was barren and
devoid of grass and wood, Wutu Gu was not in the
least alarmed and merely bade his soldiers search
for a way round.
Then he saw torches being hurled down the
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mountain side. These torches rolled till they came to
a certain spot, where they ignited the fuses leading
to the powder. Then the ground suddenly heaved
with the explosion of bombs beneath. The whole
valley was soon full of flames, darting and playing in
all directions, and wherever they met with rattan
armor the rattan caught fire, and thus the whole
army, huddled and crowded together, burned in the
midst of the valley.
Zhuge Liang looked on from the heights above
and saw the Mangs burned. Many of the dead had
been mangled and torn by the explosions of the
mines. The air was full of suffocating vapor.
Zhuge Liang’s tears fell fast as he saw the
slaughter, and he sighed, saying, “Though I am
rendering great service to my country, yet I have
sacrificed many lives. My life may be shortened for
this.”
Those who were with him were also deeply
affected.
King Meng Huo was in his camp awaiting news of
success when he saw a crowd of Mang soldiers
come along, and they bowed before him and told
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him, “King Wutu Gu is fighting a great battle and is
about to surround Zhuge Liang in the Valley of the
Coiled Serpent. But he needs help. We are the
natives of the local ravines, and we ourselves had no
alternative when we yielded to Shu. But now we
have returned to your allegiance and are willing to
come to help Your Majesty.”
So Meng Huo placed himself at the head of his
clansmen and those who had just come to him, and
lost no time in marching out. He bade them lead him
to the spot. But when he reached the valley and saw
the destruction, he knew he had been made a victim
again. As he made to retire, there appeared a body
of his enemies on each side under Zhang Ni and Ma
Zhong, and they began to attack. Meng Huo was
making what stand he could when a great shouting
arose. The Mangs were nearly all disguised soldiers
of Shu, and they quickly surrounded him and his
clansmen to make them prisoners.
Meng Huo galloped clear and got into the hills.
Presently he fell upon a small chariot, with a few
guards about it, and therein sat Zhuge Liang, simply
dressed and holding a fan.
Three Kingdoms Romance
“What now, rebel Meng Huo?” cried he.
But Meng Huo had galloped away. He was soon
stopped by Ma Dai and lay a helpless prisoner
bound hand and foot. His wife, Lady Zhurong, and
the other members of his family were also taken.
Zhuge Liang returned to camp and seated himself
in the high place in his own tent. He was still sad at
the thought of the sacrifice of life, and he said to his
officers, “There was no help for it; I had to use that
plan. But it has sadly injured my inner virtue.
Guessing that the enemy would suspect an ambush
in every thicket, I sent people to walk about in
wooded places with flags. Really there was no
ambush. I bade Wei Yan lose battle after battle just
to lead the enemy on and harden their hearts. When
I saw the Valley of the Coiled Serpent, with its bare
sides of smooth rock and the road in its depths, I
recognized what could be done and sent Ma Dai to
arrange the contents of the black carts, the mines,
which I had prepared long ago for this purpose. In
every bomb were nine others, and they were buried
thirty paces apart. They were connected by fuses
laid in hollow bamboos that they might explode in
Three Kingdoms Romance
succession, and the force was enormous. Zhao Yun
prepared those carts laden with straw and rolled
down the piles of timber and boulders that blocked
the mouth. Wei Yan led Wutu Gu on and on till he
had enticed the King into the valley, when he took up
a position to escape. Then the burning began. They
say that what is good for water is not much good for
fire, and the oil−soaked rattan, excellent as a
protection against swords and arrows, was most
inflammable, catching fire at sight. The Mangs were
so stubborn that the only way was to use fire, or we
should never have scored a victory. But I much
regret that the destruction of the people of Wugo has
been so complete.”
The officers were deeply moved.
Then Meng Huo was summoned. He appeared
and fell upon his knees. His limbs were freed from
the bonds, and he was sent into a side tent for
refreshment. But the officers told off to entertain him
received certain secret orders.
The chief prisoners were Meng Huo, Lady
Zhurong, Meng You, and Dai Lai. There were many
of his clan as well. As they were eating and drinking,
Three Kingdoms Romance
a messenger appeared in the door of the tent and
addressed the King: “The Prime Minister is ashamed
and does not wish to see you again, Sir. He has sent
me to release you. You may enlist another army if
you can and once more try a decisive battle. Now
you may go.”
But instead of going Meng Huo began to weep.
“Seven times a captive and seven times
released!” said the King. “Surely there was never
anything like it in the whole world. I know I am a
barbarian and beyond the pale, but I am not entirely
devoid of a sense of propriety and rectitude. Does he
think that I feel no shame?”
Thereupon he and all his followers fell upon their
k n e e s a n d c r a w l e d t o t h e t e n t o f t h e
Commander−in−Chief and begged pardon, saying,
“O Minister, you are the majesty of Heaven. We
people of the south will offer no more opposition.”
“Then you yield?” said Zhuge Liang, sighing.
“I and my children and grandchildren are deeply
affected by your all−pervading and life−giving mercy.
Now how can we not yield?”
Zhuge Liang asked Meng Huo to come up into
Three Kingdoms Romance
the tent and be seated, and he prepared a banquet
of felicitation. Also he confirmed Meng Huo in his
kingship and restored all the places that had been
captured. Everyone was overwhelmed with Zhuge
Liang’s generosity, and they all went away rejoicing.
A poem has praised Zhuge Liang’s action:
He rode in his chariot green,
In his hand just a feather fan,
Seven times he released a king
As part of his conquering plan.
Having chosen a beautiful spot
Where the valleys debauch on the plain,
Lest his kindness should ever be forgot,
The vanquished erected a fane.
The High Counselor Fei Yi ventured to
remonstrate with Zhuge Liang on his policy.
He said, “You, O Minister, have led the army this
long journey into the wilds and have reduced the
Mang country, and have brought about the
submission of the king; why not appoint officials to
share in the administration and hold the land?”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Zhuge Liang replied, “There are three difficulties.
To leave foreigners implies leaving a guard for them;
there is the difficulty of feeding a guard. The Mangs
have lost many of their relatives. To leave foreigners
without a guard will invite a calamity; this is the
second difficulty. Among the Mangs, dethronements
and murders are frequent, and there will be enmities
and suspicions. Foreigners and they will be mutually
distrustful; this is the third difficulty. If I do not leave
our people, I shall not have to send supplies, which
makes for peace and freedom from trouble.”
They had to agree that the policy was wise.
The kindness of the conqueror was rewarded by
the gratitude of these southern people, and they
even erected a shrine in his honor, where they
sacrificed at the four seasons. They called him their
“Gracious Father”, and they sent gifts of jewels,
cinnabar, lacquer, medicines, plowing cattle, and
chargers for the use of the army. And they pledged
themselves not to rebel.
When the feastings to the soldiers were finished,
the army marched homeward to Shu. Wei Yan was
Three Kingdoms Romance
in command of the advanced column. He marched to
the River Lu. But on his arrival the clouds gathered
and a gale blew over the face of the waters. Because
of the force of the gale, the army could not advance.
Wei Yan then returned and reported the matter to his
chief. Zhuge Liang called in Meng Huo to ask what
this might mean.
The Mangs beyond the border have yielded now
at last,
The water demons raging mad won’t let the Shu
men go past.
The next chapter will contain Meng Huo’s
explanation.

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