ProseZhang Lin said, "You're a minor general of the Guan family. You say you're capable and dare to sword dance with me. I will allow you to use a pair of swords. I will use only a single sword." Prime Minister Cao said, "The two of you both use single swords."
VerseIron Pate Zhang Lin felt angry.
"Today I will sword dance to determine loser and winner."
In front of the hall the boy felt pleased.
"I with Zhang Lin will settle how things really are."
The two men each held up a qingfeng sword.
Back and forth they moved in front of the feast to settle the outcome.
Worried sick was the Prince of Han, Liu the First Sovereign.
Then he called to Jiang Wei, the man of great courage.
Jiang Wei had seized the roan horse
Zan verseThe superior general
transmitted an order
urging his army to join the fray.
The Office of Military Administration
discriminated among the names [of the officers]
in order to report them to the throne.
VerseWhen he fought an engagement it was like pouring hot water on snow;
He cut down generals like slicing off the root of a plant.
Cao Cao's men and horses could not resist him;
How could they withstand this man?
One minute he was wreaking havoc to the south, the next he turned up in the north,
Cutting a bloody pathway through which they were able to follow in his wake.
ProseThe First Sovereign said, "Zhang Fei, why didn't you come earlier to save me? Thanks to the black lacquered staff of my nephew Guan Suo we were able to force the twenty-four fierce generals to retreat. The men and horses of the noble lords of the eight regions caught up with us. They surrounded us so tightly that neither water nor fire could have gotten through. We almost lost our lives." Zhang Fei said, "Elder brother, relax. Behind me there are more men and horses coming."
VerseZhang Fei and Prince Liu both attacked the Duke.
Guan Suo said, "We won't get another chance like this again!"
Like three iron flails they dashed back into the fray,
Creating consternation for Cao Cao, the man of Wei.
Their officers great and small all set to,
Surrounding him in the center without an escape route.
The trampling raised so much dust that you couldn't see the men.
Blood dyed the earth red and stained the horses' hooves;
ProseThe Military Advisor said, "My lord has returned from afar, and the journey was arduous." The First Sovereign said, "It was a good thing the lord Guan Suo was there. Lü Gao, who sword danced with him in front of the banquet, was cut in two with one stroke of the sword by Guan Suo. Again he sword danced with the Military Advisor of the Seven States Zhang Lin, who also had his head twisted off at the neck by Guan Suo. Furthermore, we were surrounded by the soldiers and horses of the noble lords of the eight regions. Our armies engaged them in battle, and they were surrounded by our men and horses. Cao Cao had no plans of escape. Of his own free will he offered to give me Jingzhou and allow me to take the territory of Xichuan, on condition that each of us would withdraw his army and guard his own territory." When the Military Advisor heard this, he felt pleased. By this time the banquet had already dispersed. The next day in the morning the group of officers gathered for a meeting to discuss going with utmost speed to Jingzhou. The Military Advisor addressed the subordinate generals, saying, "Duke Guan is the Commander in chief of our regime. At present he is in command of one million troops and daily expends his strength in leading men and horses. If he goes to Jingzhou and subdues the territory of Xichuan, he must take precautions to guard against [the possibly baleful influences of] the zodiacal animals that preside over the days and months. We must not delay."
VerseWhen Prince Liu, the First Sovereign, had spoken,
Great and small, the various officers were all glad.
The next day during the si period they raised men and horses.
Each and every soldier was happy.
At a stroke on the bronze gong that echoed in the vicinity,
They led men and horses and marched forward.
ProseMilitary Advisor Zhuge said, "Now we have gained Jingzhou for a base. Later we will take Xichuan for our state. For the time being we will encamp the troops and horses in Jingzhou, where there is ample good fodder." Zhang Fei said, "Our nephew Guan Suo saved the day at Fallen Phoenix Slope. Today let's have Guan Suo guard Jingzhou and rest his horses a little. We will first subdue Xichuan. Then afterwards we can have Guan Suo check out the situation and come out to reinforce us." The Prince of Jingzhou said, "The two of us, father and son, will guard Jingzhou and afterwards meet you." The First Sovereign then asked the Military Advisor, "What about this proposal?" The Military Advisor said, "It will be all right if Duke Guan doesn't go. We will go by ourselves. If we ask Duke Guan, father and son, to guard Jingzhou, the State of Wei will not dare to invade and occupy it."
VerseMilitary Advisor Zhuge transmitted the general's orders.
He spoke to Liu the Imperial Uncle.
"Send a letter to the area east of the mountains,
To Huang Zhong and Zhao Yun.
Tell them to hold securely Prosper Liu Camp
And not to move out horses and men."
The flags of the Five Tiger Generals stood at the door of his tent.
In front of the tent they raised high a flying yellow canopy;
Zan verseDouble-phoenix flags,
sun and moon flags,
waved in front of the imperial chariot.
A writhing-dragon flag
led the procession;
together the armies started out.
ProseA scout came forward and announced, "I beg to report to the Commander in chief and General: when you march forward, you will see that we are just about to arrive at Langzhou city."
VerseWhen the General and Commander in chief heard this news,
He told the Military Advisor Zhuge.
The Military Advisor said, "That's no problem,
Let the men and horses of the armies proceed forward."
We will talk no more about the journey on the road,
Nor will we discuss how they met mountains and crossed ranges.
ProseWang Zhi said, "Liu the Imperial Uncle trusts his Military Advisor Zhuge. If he urges him to do something, he does it. Now their entire contingent of troops has arrived here." Wang Zhi abandoned Mian and Han and Langzhou. Pushing carts and loading horses with provisions and fodder, jewelry, and valuables, one hundred thousand troops and soldiers went out together. "I'll think up another scheme. There's still plenty of time to fight it out with the First Sovereign."
VerseTo resume our story, Prince Liu with his troops and horses arrived
And swooped together toward Langzhou city.
A courier on the road ahead quickly bowed.
"There are no troops and soldiers in Langzhou city."
When Zhang Fei heard this, he felt pleased.
The armies then entered Langzhou city.
ProseThey led the warhorse out of the stable. They picked up the carved saddle from the rack. They fastened the three-stranded girth tightly so that the beaten iron saddle and pommel would not move. This general had a leopard's head, round eyes, a tiger's beard, and a swallow's chin. The armor he wore just fit and would withstand metal. His tiger eyes and dragon arms were like brocaded silk that also resisted injury. Against the jeweled carved saddle, eagle beak boots turned and rubbed. His spear hand wielded a pure iron eighteen-foot gleaming spear. He straddled a moon embracing piebald horse.
VerseThe horse with its war saddle was a dragon that had sprouted wings;
The man, having donned his armor, was a tiger that had developed scales.
A heaven-shaking stroke of the gong echoed.
He led forth fifty thousand soldiers.
Zhang Fei was chief in charge of the soldiers;
Jiang Wei the Brave followed behind him;
ProseZhang Fei said, "Elder brother, what he is riding is a bronze beast. My horse is afraid of his bronze beast so I cannot capture him. What is best to do? Only if I get the curly-haired horse, Red Hare, of my elder brother, the Prince of Jingzhou, will I be able to be a match for him." The Military Advisor said, "My lord is isolated and without provisions. It will be difficult to continue the struggle. You should compose a letter and send it to Duke Guan and tell him to lead troops to come and save us." The First Sovereign said, "What should I write in the letter?" The Military Advisor said, "A plan which requires suffering [in order to fool the enemyl." He composed the letter. The Military Advisor then wrote a poem:
Many years ago we swore oath of brotherhood at Peach Spring;
In front of the mountain we sacrificed a cow and horse to August Heaven.
At present I have been surrounded in Langzhou;
Quickly send men and horses down to Xichuan.
The First Sovereign said, "I will also write a poem:
Today my troops and I are surrounded;
Every day I ascend the ramparts three times in the hope of seeing the three of you, father and sons, coming to break the siege and save Langzhou. I only await the arrival of your rescuing forces." He sent the letter off to Duke Guan to come to the rescue.
VerseNow that the letter was written,
The two men dispatched it from Langzhou city.
Jiang Wei was ordered to act as envoy;
Jiang Wei dared to act as the person delivering the letter.
Jiang Wei waited until it was late;
At the sound of the midnight bell he went forth from the city.
ProseLü Kai asked Jiang Wei, "Where are you going?" Jiang Wei said, "The Emperor's uncle is trapped at Langzhou, surrounded by Wang Zhi's troops and horses. Today I am especially going to Jingzhou to get Duke Guan, father and sons, the three of them, to come rescue him." Lü Kai said, "Jiang Wei, I really ought to have killed you, but you can go ahead and fetch Duke Guan, father and sons. I have heard his name but never seen him and want to meet him. I fear you are disloyal and that Duke Guan will persuade you otherwise. Take off your shirt and let me write on your back so that Duke Guan can see for himself."
VerseHe wrote words on his back
And instructed Jiang Wei to set out on his journey.
Jiang Wei was rewarded with three cups of wine
And a snack consisting of five steamed buns.
They let Jiang Wei go,
And he strode out the door of the hall.
ProseDuke Guan said, "Jiang Wei, when [Liu Bei] set out, he did not use us, father and sons, but now you have come to get us. I won't go." Jiang Wei said, "How can this do? If I take off my shirt for him to see, surely he will go." Jiang Wei said, "General, on my way from Bazhou I went through Black Pine Forest and was getting a drink of water when I was grabbed by a bunch of men. It turned out to be Pitchfork Twirler Lü Kai. He was about to kill me. When I told him that I was on my way to the Prince of Jingzhou to get rescue troops, he spared my life. He wrote several lines of characters on my back. I don't know what they say. He told me to be sure to show them to the Prince of Jingzhou." Duke Guan said, "Let me have a look." Duke Guan at that time looked and said, "This knave is unreasonable. What grudge do you and I have against each other?" At that time he summoned Guan Ping and Guan Suo. "Originally I didn't think I would go, but one reason to go is to capture Pitchfork Twirler Lü Kai; another is to save my elder brother the Imperial Uncle and not renege on the oath of brotherhood we swore at Peach Spring. All of us, father and sons, will go."
VerseDuke Guan at that time issued his orders
And mustered fifty thousand soldiers.
In charge of the army was Commander Guan;
Great General Guan Ping acted as vanguard.
The Road-opening General was Hua Guan Suo,
And the fierce generals of the Taihang Mountains brought up the rear.
ProseGuan Suo said, "Father, the three of us will surely have to go on to Chengdu.If he is willing to follow us and take the surname Guan, then we will spare you." Duke Guan said, "You ask him." Guan Suo then asked, saying, "Kai, are you willing to follow us and be surnamed Guan? I will make you third brother." Lü Kai said, "If you spare my life, I would like to follow elder brother and be surnamed Guan." At that time Guan Suo said, "Then you will be called Guan San Kai."
VerseLü Kai at that time quickly surrendered his allegiance
And became a brother in the family.
The two camps were moved to make one camp;
The eight armies' insignia were made a part of the three armies.
They came to Bazhou city
And encamped horses and men on the drill field.
Deploy your men and horses with care,
The sooner to capture Wang Zhi the outlaw."
ProseDuke Guan said, "Your horse cannot fight successfully against him. Take my horse and go." Guan Suo said, "Indeed that would be good. When I get this horse, I will certainly capture Wang Zhi." Guan Suo said, "Father, sit tight in camp. Your son will lead one hundred thousand brave soldiers, and with Jiang Wei and also together with the twelve fierce generals of the Taihang Mountains, we'll make a good job of capturing Wang Zhi."
VerseGuan Suo in front of the formation quickly put on his gear.
In his hand he held a yellow dragon spear,
And rode the curly-haired horse Red Hare.
He arrayed the one hundred thousand soldiers,
Calling, "Wang Zhi the Hideous,
Come out of the battle formation and determine loser and winner."
ProseZhou Ba of a petty state came forward and demanded in a loud voice, "What place's men and horses are you? Do you dare to come and lay waste to the mountainside?" When what should occur but Pang Tong spoke up and said, "We are troops and horses of Great Han, going forward to Chengdu to be stationed there." Zhou Ba said, "Transmit this message to Prince Liu the First Sovereign: We must not pick a fight with each other. I do not fight with you to snatch territory and harm the empire. At this mountain I ask only for a few gold and silver coins to provide for my troops and horses. Leave forty or fifty good horses, leave forty or fifty catties of gold and silver, and then I will allow your troops and horses to go on immediately to Chengdu. If you do not hand these over, you will not be able to pass, even in three years."
Verse"If you do not leave gold and valuables,
For three years how can you cross this mountain pass?"
This affronted Big Sword General Pang Tong,
Whose whole face became bright red.
"The nerve of that small-time Zhou Ba
Who dares to insult us in front of the mountain."
ProseZhou Ba asked, "Who are you?" Zhang Fei said, "I am surnamed Zhang and my name is Fei; my style name is Yide." Zhou Ba said, "I have heard your name but never before seen you. Only today have I met you. I'm not looking for a fight with you. Again today I say to you: I want you to leave thirty to fifty good horses and forty or fifty catties of gold and silver, and then I will let you pass by. If you do not give them, I will not allow you to pass, even in three years."
Verse"If you should say that you refuse,
For three years how will you cross this pass?"
When Zhang Fei heard this, he felt upset and annoyed.
His whole face became bright red.
"I don't believe Zhou Ba is so hot.
He isn't worth the dust on the tip of my boot."
ProseThat night Prince Liu the First Sovereign, the group of officers great and small, and the leaders all met together for a discussion and said, "One after the other we have lost twice to Zhou Ba. How can we manage to capture him?"
VerseWhen Guan Suo saw it he felt glad.
Then he went back to camp and saw the Lord of Han.
The group of officers great and small were all happy.
In detail from the beginning he explained about the situation.
"Indeed this thing is really strange and unusual,
A heaven-bestowed Xuanhua battle-axe."
ProseGuan Suo said, "I am no other than the second son of the Prince of Jingzhou, Commander Guan, the famous Guan Suo. All by myself I have led men and horses to come to Xichuan to seek my father and break the siege. When I encounter the good I do not insult them. When I meet the bad I do not fear them. When you run into me, you'll find out what manner of man I am." Zhou Ba said, "I will not fight with you over who is stronger. I am a bandit and I work hard at it to make a living. All I want is for you to leave forty or fifty good horses and to leave thirty or fifty catties of gold and silver, and then I will let your men and horses pass."
VerseWhen Guan Suo heard this kind of talk, he said,
"Zhou Ba, you ruffian, who do you think you're up against?
If you don't allow us to pass today,
The Guan family will kill you and make you a goner."
When Zhou Ba heard this, he smiled.
"I'll make you a goner in front of the ranks."
Who captured Zhou Ba of the flaming sword
And got rid of the outlaw from the mountain.
ProseMilitary Advisor Zhuge said, "Rejoice, oh King, for you have taken Jingzhou and Mian, Han, and Langzhou. Now there is only one place remaining, the capital Chengdu in Xichuan. Now if we first take the capital Chengdu, the fifty-four districts of Xichuan will all fall under the control of our House of Han. All our troops and soldiers must go to the capital Chengdu and encamp there, and then we can go to subdue the fifty-four districts of Xichuan. When that occurs the dream of my lifetime will be fulfilled."
VerseThe Military Advisor Zhuge transmitted his general's orders.
He addressed Prince Liu, the First Sovereign, saying, "Hear my advice.
Do not stay buried deep in these mountains;
Immediately subdue Chengdu."
Prince Liu and his generals were all glad.
Then they transmitted the imperial orders and mustered the three armies.
ProseThis general shows himself a hero. Zhou Cang's battle cries are loud. His fury is like clouds covering the sun. His arrows are fletched with phoenix feathers. He is attired in big-plate, head-to-toe armor, and wears a brocade battle robe of princely cut. He rides a river-churning, sea-roiling horse and wields a peak-rending, mountain-splitting sword.
VerseCommander Zhou Cang quickly mounted his horse.
A gong echoed in the drill field summoning the army.
From the east and west stalls they led out war horses;
In the north and south camps they mustered stalwart troops.
The horses they mustered were Chuanxi stream-leaping horses;
The men they mustered were men from the five circuits of Guanxi.
His hand held up a yellow dragon spear.
In front of the ranks he arrayed troops and horses.
- ↑ There are two lines missing here which should start with the numbers one and two in order to complete the series from one to ten.
- ↑ i.e., Zhuge Liang
- ↑ A type of sword, first made in 1165.
- ↑ This is Monkey's nickname in Xiyou ji 西遊記 ("Journey to the West").
- ↑ Spirits in human form who, in return for sacrifices, were believed to grant protection and happiness