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Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義)

by Luo Guanzhong (羅貫中) Translated by C.H. Brewitt-Taylor

Three Kingdoms

Chapter 91 : Sacrificing At River Lu, The Prime Minister Marches Homeward; Attacking Wei, The Lord Of Wuxiang Presents A Memorial.

Chapter 91 : Sacrificing At River Lu, The Prime Minister Marches Homeward; Attacking Wei, The Lord Of Wuxiang Presents A Memorial.

Meng Huo at the head of the Mang Chieftains and Notables attended to do honor to the army of Shu on its departure. They reached the River Lu in autumn, the ninth month. But on trying to cross the river, a tremendous storm came and hindered them. Wei Yan having reported his difficulty to Zhuge Liang, Meng Huo was asked if he knew of any reason for such a storm.

Meng Huo replied, “Wild spirits have always troubled those who would cross this river. It is necessary to propitiate them with sacrifices.”

“What is the sacrifice?” asked Zhuge Liang.

“In the old days when malicious spirits brought misfortune, they sacrificed humans to the number of seven sevens and offered their forty-nine heads. They also slew a black ox and a white goat. Sacrifice thus, the wind will subside and the waters come to rest. The same used to be done to secure a plenteous harvest.”

“How can I slay a single person now that fighting is done and peace has returned?” said Zhuge Liang.

Zhuge Liang went down to the river to see for himself. The north wind was blowing hard, and the waves were high. Both humans and horses seemed frightened. He himself was perplexed. Then he sought out some of the natives and questioned them.

They said, “We have heard the demons moaning every night since your army crossed the river. The cries begin at dusk and continued till dawn. There are many dark demons in the malarial vapors, and no one dared cross.”

“The sin is mine,” sighed Zhuge Liang, “for more than a thousand soldiers of Ma Dai perished in these waters beside many southern people. Their poor distressed souls are not yet freed. Therefore I will come this night and sacrifice to them.”

“According to the ancient rule the number of victims ought to be forty-nine. Then the spirits will disperse,” said the natives.

“As the resentful demons are here because of the deaths of people, where is the sense in slaying more humans? But I know what to do.”

Zhuge Liang bade them make balls of flour paste after the manner of human heads and stuff them with the flesh of oxen and goats. These would be used instead of human heads, and they called these ‘mantou’ or ‘human heads’.

By nightfall, an altar had been set up on the bank of the river with the sacrificial objects all arranged. There were also forty-nine lamps. Flags were flying to summon the souls. The forty-nine mantous were piled up on the ground. In the middle of the third watch, at midnight, Zhuge Liang, dressed in Daoist garb, went to offer the sacrifice in person, and he bade Dong Jue read this prayer:

“On the first day of the ninth month of the third year of the era Beginning Prosperity of the Han Dynasty, I, Zhuge Liang, Prime Minister of Han, Lord of Wuxiang, Imperial Protector of Yizhou, reverently order this sacrifice to appease the shades of those soldiers of Shu who have died in their country’s service and those of the southern people who have perished.

“I now declare to you, O ye shades, the majesty of my master, the Emperor of the mighty Han Dynasty, excelling that of the Five Feudatories and brilliantly continuing the glory of the Three Dynastic Kings. Recently, when the distant south rebelliously invaded his territory, contumeliously sent an army, loosed the venom of their sorcery, and gave free rein to their savagery in rebellion, I was commanded to punish their crimes. Wherefore my brave armies marched and utterly destroyed the contemptible rebels. My brave soldiers gathered like the clouds, and the insensate rebels melted away. Hearing of the easy successes I won, they were entirely demoralized.

“My army consists of heroes from the Nine Regions, and officers and people are famous in the empire; all are expert in war and skilled in the use of arms. They go whither light leads them and serve the Emperor. All have exerted themselves to obey orders and carried out the plans for the seven captures of Meng Huo. They were whole-hearted in their service and vied in loyalty. Who could foresee that you, O Spirits, would be sacrificed in the strategy and be involved in the enemies’ wicked wiles? Some of you went down to the deep springs wounded by flying arrows. Others went out into the long night hurt by lethal weapons. Living you were valorous, dead you left behind a name.

“Now we are returning home. The victors’ song is in our mouths and our prisoners accompany us. Your spirits are with us still and certainly hear our prayers. Follow the banners, come with the host, return to your country, each to his own village, where you may enjoy the savor of the meat offerings and receive the sacrifices of your own families. Do not become wandering ghosts in unfamiliar hamlets of restless shades in strange cities. I will memorialize our Emperor that your wives and little ones may enjoy his gracious bounty, every year gifts of food and clothing, every month donations for sustenance. Comfort yourselves with this provision.

“As for you, Spirits of this place, shades of the departed people of the south, here is the usual sacrifice. You are near home. Year-round sacrifice is not lacking. Living you stood in awe of the celestial majesty, dead you come within the sphere of refining influence. It is right that you should hold your peace and refrain from uttering unseemly cries. With bowed head I pray you partake of the sweet savor of this sacrifice.

“Alas, ye dead! To you this offering!”

Zhuge Liang broke into loud lamentations at the end of this prayer and manifested extreme emotion, and the whole army shed tears. Meng Huo and his followers also moaned and wept, and amid the sad clouds and angry mists they saw the vague forms of many demons floating away on the wind till they disappeared.

The material portion of the sacrifice was then thrown into the river. Next day the army stood on the south bank with a clear sky over their heads and calm waters at their feet, the clouds gone and the winds hushed, and the crossing was made without misadventure. They continued their way, whips cracking, gongs clanging, spurs jingling, and ever and anon the song of victory rising over all.

Passing through Yongchang, Wang Kang and Lu Kai were left there in command of the four territories —-Yizhou, Yongchang, Zangge, and Yuesui. And then Meng Huo was permitted to leave. He was ordered to be diligent in his administration, maintain good control, and soothe and care for the people left to him to govern and to see to it that agriculture was promoted. He took leave with tears rolling down his cheeks.

When the army neared Capital Chengdu, the Latter Ruler came out ten miles in state to welcome his victorious minister. The Emperor stood by the roadside as Zhuge Liang came up, and waited.

Zhuge Liang quickly descended from his chariot, prostrated himself and said, “Thy servant has offended in causing his master anxiety. But the conquest of the south was long.”

The Emperor took Zhuge Liang kindly by the hand and raised him. Then the chariots of the Son of God and his minister returned to Chengdu side by side. In the capital were great rejoicings with banquets and rewards for the army. Henceforward distant nations sent tribute to the Imperial Court to the number of two hundred.

As proposed in a memorial, the Emperor provided for the families of the soldiers who had lost their lives in the expedition, and they were made happy. And the whole land enjoyed tranquillity.

Meanwhile in the Middle Land, the Ruler of Wei, Cao Pi, had now ruled seven years, and it was the fourth year of Beginning Prosperity in Shu-Han calendar. Cao Pi had taken to wife a lady of the Zhen family, formerly the wife of the second son of Yuan Shao. He had discovered Lady Zhen at the sack of Yejun and had married her. She bore him a son, Cao Rui, who was very clever and a great favorite with his father.

Later Cao Pi took as Beloved Consort a daughter of Guo Yong in Guangzong. Lady Guo was a woman of exceeding beauty, whom her father said, “She is the king among women!” And the name “Lady King” stuck to her.

But with Lady Guo’s arrival at court, Lady Zhen fell from her lord’s favor, and the Beloved Consort’s ambition led her to intrigue to replace the Empress. She took Zhang Tao, a minister at the court, into her confidence.

At that time the Emperor was indisposed, and Zhang Tao alleged, saying, “In the palace of the Empress has been dug up a wooden image with Your Majesty’s date of birth written thereon. It is meant to exercise a maleficent influence.”

Cao Pi in his anger forced his Empress to commit suicide; and he set up the Beloved Consort in her place.

But Lady Guo had no issue. Wherefore she nourished Cao Rui as her own. However, loved as Cao Rui was, he was not then named heir by the Empress.

When he was about fifteen, Cao Rui, who was an expert archer and a daring rider, accompanied his father to the hunt. In a gully they started a doe and its fawn. Cao Pi shot the doe, while the fawn fled. Seeing that the fawn’s course led past his son’s horse, Cao Pi called out to him to shoot it. Instead the youth bursts into tears.

“Your Majesty has slain the mother. How can one kill the child as well?”

The words struck the Emperor with remorse. He threw aside his bow, saying, “My son, you would make a benevolent and virtuous ruler.”

From this circumstance Cao Pi decided that Cao Rui should succeed, and conferred upon him the princedom of Pingyuan.

In the fifth month the Emperor fell ill, and medical treatment was of no avail. So the chief officers were summoned to the bedside of the Emperor. They were Commander of the Center Army Cao Zhen, General Who Guards the West Chen Qun, and Grand Commander Sima Yi.

When they had come, the Emperor’s son was called, and the dying Emperor spoke thus: “I am grievously ill, and my end is near. I confide to your care and guidance this son of mine. You must support him out of good feeling for me.”

“Why does Your Majesty talk thus?” said they. “We will do our utmost to serve you for a thousand autumns and a myriad years.”

“No. I know that I am about to die,” said the Emperor. “The sudden fall of the gates of Xuchang this year was the omen, as I well knew.”

Just then the attendants said that General Who Conquers the East Cao Xiu had come to ask after the Emperor’s health. They were told to call Cao Xiu into the chamber.

When he had entered, Cao Pi said to him, “You and these three are the pillars and cornerstones of the state. If you will only uphold my son, I can close my eyes in peace.”

These were his last words. A flood of tears gushed forth, and Cao Pi sank back on the couch dead. He was forty years of age and had reigned seven years (AD 229).

The four ministers raised the wailing for the dead and forthwith busied themselves with setting up Cao Rui as the Emperor of Great Wei. The late Emperor received the posthumous style of “Emperor Pi”. The late Empress, the consort who had suffered death, was styled “Empress Zhen”.

Honors were distributed freely in celebration of the new reign. Zhong Yao was made Imperial Guardian; Cao Zhen, Regent Marshal; Cao Xiu, Minister of War; Hua Xin, Grand Commander; Wang Lang, Minister of the Interior; Chen Qun, Minister of Works; Sima Yi, Imperial Commander of the Flying Cavalry; and many others, conspicuous and obscure, were promoted. A general amnesty was declared throughout all the land.

About this time a vacancy existed in the commandership of Yongzhou and Liangzhou. Sima Yi asked for the post and got it. He left for his new office as soon as he had received the appointment. All military affairs of the west were now under his command.

In due time the news of all these doings reached Zhuge Liang and perturbed him not a little.

He was anxious, saying, “Cao Pi is dead, and his son Cao Rui has succeeded him. But that is not my concern. Only I am worried about Sima Yi, who is very crafty and skillful in the art of war, and who, in command of all western forces of Yongzhou and Liangzhou, may prove a serious danger to Shu. This Sima Yi ought to be attacked at once.”

Counselor Ma Su spoke of this matter. “You, O Prime Minister, have just returned from an arduous and exhausting expedition, and you should take time to recuperate before you undertake such another. However, I have a scheme by which Cao Rui may be brought to work the destruction of Sima Yi. May I lay it before you?”

“What plan have you?” said he.

“The young emperor has no confidence in Sima Yi although Sima Yi is a high minister of state. Now send someone secretly to Luoyang and Yejun to disseminate reports that Sima Yi is about to rebel. Further, prepare a proclamation in his name and post it up so as to cause Cao Rui to mistrust him and put him to death.”

Zhuge Liang adopted the suggestion.

Whence it came about that many notices suddenly appeared, and one found its way to the city gate of Yejun. The wardens of the gate took it down and sent it to Cao Rui. This is what it said:

“I, Sima Yi, Imperial Commander of the Flying Cavalry, Commander of the Forces of Yongzhou and Liangzhou, confident in the universal principles of right, now inform the empire, saying:

“The Founder of this Dynasty, Emperor Cao, established himself with the design of recurring the empire to the Lord of Linzi, Cao Zhi. Unfortunately, calumny spread abroad, and the Dragon Ruler could not manifest himself for many years. Emperor Cao’s grandson, Cao Rui, does not follow a virtuous course, though sitting in the high place, and has not fulfilled the great intention of his ancestor. Now I, in accordance with the will of Heaven and favoring the desires of the people, have decided upon a day to set my army in motion in order to secure the wish of the people. When that day arrives, I call upon each one to gather to his lord, and I will destroy utterly the family of any who shall disobey. You are hereby informed that you may all know.”

This document frightened the young Emperor, and he turned pale. At once he called a council of his officials to consider it.

Hua Xin said, “That was the reason for his having requested the commandership of Yongzhou and Liangzhou. Now Emperor Cao, the Founder of Great Wei, frequently said to me that Sima Yi was ambitious and hungry, and should not be entrusted with military authority lest he harm the state. This is the first beginning of rebellion, and the author should be put to death.”

Wang Lang said, “Sima Yi is a master of strategy and skilled in tactics. Moreover, he is ambitious and will cause mischief if he be allowed to live.”

Wherefore Cao Rui wrote a command to raise an army, which he would lead to punish the minister.

Suddenly Cao Zhen stood forth from the rank of military officers and said, “What you advise is impossible. His Late Majesty, Emperor Pi, confided his son to the care of certain officers of state, of whom Sima Yi is one, wherefore it is certain that he felt sure of Sima Yi’s probity. So far nothing is known certainly. If you hastily send an army to repress him, you may force him into rebellion. This may be but one of the base tricks of Shu or Wu to cause dissension in our midst so that occasion be found to further their own aims. As no one knows, I pray Your Majesty reflect before you do anything.”

“Supposing Sima Yi really contemplates a revolt. What then?” said Cao Rui.

Cao Zhen replied, “If Your Majesty suspects him, then do as did Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor of Han when, under pretense of taking a trip on the Lake Yunmeng, he summoned his vassals —-and seized Han Xin, who had been denounced. Go to Anyi; Sima Yi will assuredly come out to meet you, and his actions and demeanor may be watched closely. He can be arrested if needed.”

Cao Rui changed his mind. Leaving Cao Zhen to regulate the affairs of state, the young Emperor went out with the Imperial Guards, to the number of one hundred thousand, and traveled to Anyi.

Ignorant of the reason of the Emperor’s coming, and anxious to show off his dignity, Sima Yi went to welcome his ruler in all the pomp of a commander of a great army of one hundred thousand.

As Sima Yi approached, the courtiers told the Emperor, saying, “Sima Yi’s defection is certain since such a large army can only mean that he is prepared to resist.”

Whereupon Cao Xiu, with a large force, was sent in front to meet him. Sima Yi thought the Imperial Chariot was coming, and he advanced alone and stood humbly by the roadside till Cao Xiu came up.

Cao Xiu advanced and said, “Friend, His Late Majesty entrusted you with the heavy responsibility of caring for his son. Why are you in revolt?”

Sima Yi turned pale, and a cold sweat broke out all over him as he asked the reason for such a charge. Cao Xiu told him what had occurred.

“This is a vile plot on the part of our rivals, Shu and Wu, to cause dissension,” said Sima Yi. “It is a design to make the Emperor work evil upon his ministers that thereby another may profit. I must see the Son of Heaven and explain.”

Ordering his army to retire, Sima Yi went forward alone to the Emperor’s chariot.

Sima Yi bowed low and said, weeping, “His Late Majesty gave me charge of his son. Could I betray him? This is a wile of the enemy. I crave permission to lead an army, first to destroy Shu and then to attack Wu, whereby to show my gratitude to the late Emperor and Your Majesty and manifest my own true heart.”

However, Cao Rui did not feel quite convinced, and Hua Xin said, “In any case withdraw his military powers and let him go into retirement.”

And thus it was decided. Sima Yi was forced to retire to his native village. Cao Xiu succeeded to his command, and Cao Rui returned to Luoyang.

The news was soon reported to Shu. Zhuge Liang rejoiced when they told him of the success that had attended the ruse.

“Sima Yi and the forces he commanded in Yongzhou and Liangzhou have been the obstacles in my long-wished-for attack on Wei. Now he has fallen, I have no more anxiety.”

At the first great assembly of officers at court, Zhuge Liang stepped forth and presented to the Ruler of Shu a memorial on the expedition he contemplated.

“The First Ruler had accomplished but half his great task at his death. At this moment the empire is in three parts, and our country is weak; it is a most critical moment for us. Still, ministers are not remiss in the capital, and loyal and devoted soldiers sacrifice their lives abroad, for they still remember the special kindness of the First Ruler and wish to show their gratitude to him by service to Your Majesty. Therefore it would be indeed fitting that you should extend your holy virtue to glorify his virtuous memory in the stimulation of the will of your purposeful officers. Your Majesty should not lose yourself in the pursuit of mean things, quoting phrases to confound the eternal principles of rectitude, and so preventing remonstrance from honest people. One rule applies to the palace of the Emperor and the residence of a courtier; there must be one law rewarding the good and punishing the evil. Evil-doers and law-breakers, as also true and good people, should be dealt with according to their deserts by the officers concerned in order to manifest Your Majesty’s impartial and enlightened administration. Partiality is wrong, as is one law for the court and another for the regions.

“The High Ministers Fei Yi, Guo Youzhi, and Dong Yun are honest men, devotedly anxious to be loyal to the last degree; wherefore His Late Majesty chose them in his testament. My advice is to consult them in all Palace matters, great or small, before taking action. Your Majesty will reap the enormous advantage of having any failings corrected.

“General Xiang Chong is a man of well-balanced temperament, versed in military matters, to whom, after testing him, the late Emperor applied the epithet ‘capable’. The consensus of opinion is that Xiang Chong should be Grand Commander. My advice is to consult him in all military matters, great or small, whereby your military forces will yield their maximum, each one being employed to the best advantage.

“Attract worthy people; repel mean ones. This policy achieved the glory of the Former Hans, while its reversal ruined the Latter Hans. When the late Emperor was with us, he often discussed this with your servant, and he took much to heart the story of Emperors Huan and Ling.

“The Chair of the Secretariat Chen Zhen, Commander Zhang Si, and Minister Jiang Wan are all incorruptible and enlightened people, honest to the death. I wish that Your Majesty should have them near and hold them in confidence. If this be done, then the glory of the House of Han will be quickly consummated.

“I was originally a private person, a farmer in Nanyang, concerned only to secure personal safety in a troubled age and not seeking conversation with the contending nobles. His Late Majesty, the First Ruler, overlooking the commonness of my origin, condescended to seek me thrice in my humble cot and consult me on the trend of events. His magnanimity affected me deeply, and I consented to do my utmost for him. Then came defeat, and I took office at a moment of darkest outlook and at a most difficult crisis. This is twenty-one years ago. The First Ruler recognized my diligent care, and when dying he confided the great task to me. From that day I have lived a life of anxiety lest I should fail in my trust and so dim his glory.

“That is why I undertook the expedition to the lands beyond the River Lu. Now the Southern Mangs has been quelled, and our army is in good condition. I ought to lead it against the north, where I may meet with a measure of success in the removal of the wicked ones, the restoration of Han, and a return to the old capital. This is my duty out of gratitude to the late Emperor and loyalty to Your Majesty. As to a discussion of the pros and cons and giving a true version of the whole matter, that belongs to Guo Youzhi and Fei Yi and Dong Yun. I desire Your Majesty to confide to me the task of slaying the rebels and restoring the Hans. If I fail, then punish me by telling the spirit of the late Emperor. If you know not what restoration implies, that is the fault of your advisers.

“Your Majesty should take pains to be guided into the right path and examine carefully what is laid before you, carefully remembering the late Emperor’s testament.

“I cannot express what would be my delight if you had the goodness to accept and act on my advice.

“Now I am about to depart on a distant expedition, I write this with tears, and in deep emotions, beyond my words.”

The Emperor read it through and said, “My Father Minister, you have only just returned from a distant and fatiguing expedition against the Southern Mangs. You are not yet refreshed, and I fear this march to the north will be almost too much even for you.”

Zhuge Liang replied, “The heaviest responsibility lies upon me, the well-being of Your Majesty confided to me by the First Ruler. My efforts may not be relaxed night or day. The south is at rest, at home is no anxiety. What better time could be hoped for to destroy the rebels and recover the Middle Land?”

Forth from the ranks of courtiers stood Minister Qiao Zhou and said, “I have studied the aspect of the stars. The northern quarter is brilliant and strong. The scheme will not speed.”

Then turning toward the Prime Minister, he continued, “You, O Prime Minister, understand the mysteries of the skies. Why do you oppose the stars?”

“Because the stars are in infinite changes,” replied Zhuge Liang. “One may rely on the stars too much. Moreover, I have already sent the army into Hanzhong, where I shall act as soon as I have studied what is afoot.”

Qiao Zhou pleaded in vain. Zhuge Liang was too strongly set upon his purpose to yield. So Guo Youzhi, Dong Yun, and Fei Yi were ordered to attend to matters in the Palace; Xiang Chong was to control all military affairs and became Grand Commander; Jiang Wan was made Military Adviser; Chen Zhen became Chair of the Secretariat; Zhang Si, Controller of the Prime Minister’s palace; Du Qiong, Imperial Censor; Du Wei and Yang Hong, Ministers; Meng Guang and Lai Min, Libationers; Yin Mo and Li Zhuan, Academicians; Xi Zheng and Fei Shi, General Secretaries; Qiao Zhou, Chief Secretary; and others to the number of over a hundred, all to manage the administration of Shu in the absence of Zhuge Liang.

Having received his Emperor’s command to lead an expedition against the north, Zhuge Liang returned to his palace and summoned the officers of the army to listen to the orders. And they came, and to each was appointed a duty in the great army:

Front Army Commander —-Wei Yan

Front Army Marching Generals —-Zhang Yi, Wang Ping

Rear Army Commander —-Li Hui

Rear Army Marching General —-Lu Yin

Left Army Commander and Chief of the Commissariat —-Ma Dai

Left Army Marching General —-Zhang Ni

Right Army Commander —-Ma Zheng

Right Army Marching General —-Deng Zhi

Center Army Director —-Liu Yang

Center Army Marching Generals —-Liao Hua, Hu Ji

Center Army Front Generals —-Yuan Lin, Liu Ba, Xu Yun

Center Army Rear General —-Hu Ban

Center Army Left Generals —-Wu Yi, Ding Xian

Center Army Right Generals —-Gao Xiang, Guan Yong, Liu Min

Center Army Center Generals —-Du Qi, Sheng Bo, Fan Qi

Advisers —-Ma Su, Yang Yi, Cuan Xi, Du Yi

Secretaries —-Fan Jian, Dong Jue

Left Guard —-Guan Xing

Right Guard —-Zhang Bao

Inspector —-Yan Yan

Li Yan was given the task of guarding the passes against Wu from the southeast.

Zhuge Liang was the Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Expedition.

All being ready, a day was chosen for the start: The fifth year, the third month, on the day of “tiger”.

After the appointments had all been made, there came forward a veteran who had listened in vain for the duty assigned him.

“Old I may be,” said he, “yet have I still the valor of Lian Po and the heroism of Ma Yuan. Why am I thought useless any more than these two who refused to acknowledge old age?”

It was Zhao Zilong.

Zhuge Liang said, “I have lost my friend Ma Chao by illness since I returned from the Southern Expedition, and I feel as I had lost an arm. Now, General, you must own that the years are mounting up. Any slight lapse would not only shake the life-long reputation of yourself, but might have a bad effect on the whole army.”

Zhao Zilong replied bitterly, “I have never quailed in the presence of the enemy from the day I first joined the First Ruler. I have ever pressed to the front. It is a happy ending for a person of valor to die on the frontier. Think you that I should resent it? Let me lead the van, I pray.”

Zhuge Liang used all his skill to dissuade the veteran, but in vain.

Zhao Zilong was set on it, saying, �If you, O Prime Minister, do not let me lead the van, I will smash my head on the floor and die at your feet.�

At last Zhuge Liang yielded, saying, �General, you can have the post of Van Leader, but you must choose a colleague to support you.�

“I will go to help the Veteran Leader!” cried Deng Zhi, without a moment’s hesitation. “I am not worth much, but I will help lead the attack on the enemy.”

Accordingly five thousand of veterans were chosen for the advanced guard, and with them, to assist Zhao Zilong, went Deng Zhi and ten other generals.

After the vanguard had set out, the main body marched by the north gate, the Latter Ruler himself going to see his minister start. The farewell was taken three miles from the gate, in the face of the grand army with its banners and pennons flaunting in the wind, and spears and swords gleaming in the sun.

Then they took the road leading to Hanzhong.

Naturally, this movement was duly reported in Luoyang at a court held by Cao Rui, when a minister said, “A report from the border stations says that Zhuge Liang has marched three hundred thousand troops into Hanzhong. Zhao Zilong and Deng Zhi are leading the advanced guard.”

The report alarmed Cao Rui, and he asked, “Who can lead an army to repel the advance?”

At once out spoke one, saying, “My father died in Hanzhong, and to my bitter resentment his death is unavenged. Now I desire to lead the army against Shu, and I pray that the armies west of the Pass may be given me for this purpose. I shall render a service to the state, as well as taking vengeance for my father. I care not what fate may befall me.”

The speaker was Xiahou Yuan’s son, Xiahou Mao. He was by nature very impulsive and also very miserly. When young he had been adopted by Xiahou Dun. When Xiahou Yuan was killed by Huang Zhong, Cao Cao was moved and married Xiahou Mao to one of his daughters, Princess Qinghe, so that he was an Imperial Son-in-Law. As such he enjoyed great deference at court. But although he held a military commission, he had never been with the army. However, as he requested the command, he was made Commander-in-Chief of the western armies and was ready to march.

But Minister of the Interior Wang Lang spoke against the appointment, saying, “The appointment is wrong. Xiahou Mao, the Son-in-Law, has never seen a battle and is unsuitable for this post, especially when his opponent is the clever and crafty Zhuge Liang, a man thoroughly versed in strategy.”

“I suppose you have arranged with Zhuge Liang to be his ally,” sneered Xiahou Mao. “Ever since I was a boy, I have studied strategy, and I am well acquainted with army matters. Why do you despise my youth? Unless I capture this Zhuge Liang, I pledge myself never again to see the Emperor’s face.”

Wang Lang and his supporters were silenced. Xiahou Mao took leave of the Ruler of Wei and hastened to Changan to get his army in order. He had two hundred thousand troops from the western areas.

He would go to battle, take the signal flags in grip,

But could he play the leader, he a lad with callow lip?

The next chapter will deal with this campaign.



Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 91 : Sacrificing At River Lu, The Prime Minister Marches Homeward; Attacking Wei, The Lord Of Wuxiang Presents A Memorial.
Chapter 91 : Sacrificing At River Lu, The Prime Minister Marches Homeward; Attacking Wei, The Lord Of Wuxiang Presents A Memorial.
Chapter 91 Sacrificing At River Lu, The Prime Minister Marches Homeward; Attacking Wei, The Lord Of Wuxiang Presents A Memorial.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
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