Stories and Folktales in Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Zhao Yun Rescues Liu Shan
Now Zhao Yun, after fighting with the enemy from the fourth watch till daylight, could see no sign of his lord and, moreover, had lost his lord's family. He thought bitterly within himself, "My master confided to me his family and the child lord Liu Shan; and I have lost them. How can I look him in the face? I can only go now and fight to the death. Whatever happen, I must go to seek the women and my lord's son."
Turning about he found he had but some forty followers left. He rode quickly to and fro among the scattered soldiers seeking the lost women. The lamentations of the people about him were enough to make heaven and earth weep. Some had been wounded by arrows, others by spears; they had thrown away their children, abandoned their wives, and were flying they knew not whither in crowds.
Presently Zhao Yun saw a man lying in the grass and recognized him as Jian Yong. "Have you seen the two mothers?" cried he. Jian Yong replied, "They left their carriage and ran away taking the child lord Liu Shan in their arms. I followed but on the slope of the hill I was wounded and fell from my horse. The horse was stolen. I could fight no longer and I lay down here." Zhao Yun put his colleague on the horse of one of his followers, told off two soldiers to support Jian Yong, and bade Jian Yong ride to their lord and tell him of the loss. "Say," said Zhao Yun, "that I will seek the lost ones in heaven or hell, through good or evil; and if I find them not, I will die in the desert." Then Zhao Yun rode off toward the Long Slope Bridge. As he went a voice called out, "General Zhao Yun, where are you going?" "Who are you?" said Zhao Yun, pulling up. "One of the Princely One's carriage guards. I am wounded." "Do you know anything of the two ladies?" "Not very long ago I saw the Lady Gan go south with a party of other women. Her hair was down and she was barefooted."
Hearing this, without even another glance at the speaker, Zhao Yun put his horse at full gallop toward the south. Soon he saw a small crowd of persons, male and female, walking hand in hand. "Is Lady Gan among you!" he called out. A woman in the rear of the party looked up at him and uttered a loud cry. He slipped off his steed, stuck his spear in the sand and wept, "It was my fault that you were lost. But where are Lady Mi and our child lord?" Lady Gan replied, "She and I were forced to abandon our carriage and mingle with the crowd on foot. Then a band of soldiers came up and we were separated. I do not know where they are. I ran for my life."
As she spoke a howl of distress rose from the crowd of fugitives, for a thousand of soldiers appeared. Zhao Yun recovered his spear and mounted ready for action. Presently he saw among the soldiers a prisoner bound upon a horse; and the prisoner was Mi Zhu. Behind Mi Zhu followed a general gripping a huge sword. The men belonged to the army of Cao Ren, and the general was Chunyu Dao. Having captured Mi Zhu, he was just taking him to his chief as a proof of his prowess.
Zhao Yun shouted and rode at the captor who was speedily slain by a spear thrust and his captive was set free. Then taking two of the horses, Zhao Yun set Lady Gan on one and Mi Zhu took the other. They rode away toward Long Slope Bridge. But there, standing grim on the bridge, was Zhang Fei. As soon as he saw Zhao Yun, he called out, "Zhao Yun, why have you betrayed our lord?" "I fell behind because I was seeking the ladies and our child lord," said Zhao Yun. "What do you mean by talking of betrayal?" "If it had not been that Jian Yong arrived before you and told me the story, I should hardly have spared you." "Where is the master?" said Zhao Yun. "Not far away, in front there." "Conduct Lady Gan to him; I am going to look for Lady Mi," said Zhao Yun to his companion, and he turned back along the road by which he had come.
Before long he met a leader armed with an iron spear and carrying a sword slung across his back, riding a curvetting steed, and leading ten other horsemen. Without uttering a word Zhao Yun rode straight toward him and engaged. At the first pass Zhao Yun disarmed his opponent and brought him to earth. His followers galloped away. This fallen officer was no other than Xiahou En, Cao Cao's sword-bearer. And the sword on Xiahou En's back was his master's. Cao Cao had two swords, one called Trust in God and the other Luminous Blade. Trust in God was the weapon Cao Cao usually wore at his side, the other being carried by his sword-bearer. The Luminous Blade would cut clean through iron as though it were mud, and no sword had so keen an edge.
Before Zhao Yun thus fell in with Xiahou En, the later was simply plundering, depending upon the authority implied by his office. Least of all thought he of such sudden death as met he at Zhao Yun's hands. So Zhao Yun got possession of a famous sword. The name Blue Blade was chased in gold characters so that he recognized its value at once. He stuck it in his belt and again plunged into the press. Just as he did so, he turned his head and saw he had not a single follower left; he was quite alone. Nevertheless not for a single instant thought he of turning back; he was too intent upon his quest. To and fro, back and forth, he rode questioning this person and that. At length a man said, "A woman with a child in her arms, and wounded in the thigh so that she cannot walk, is lying over there through that hole in the wall."
Zhao Yun rode to look and there, beside an old well behind the broken wall of a burned house, sat the mother clasping the child to her breast and weeping. Zhao Yun was on his knees before her in a moment. "My child will live then since you are here," cried Lady Mi. "Pity him, O General; protect him, for he is the only son of his father's flesh and blood. Take him to his father and I can die content." "It is my fault that you have suffered," replied Zhao Yun. "But it is useless to say more. I pray you take my horse while I will walk beside and protect you till we get clear." She replied, "I may not do that. What would you do without a steed? But the boy here I confide to your care. I am badly wounded and cannot hope to live. Pray take him and go your way. Do not trouble more about me." "I hear shouting," said Zhao Yun. "The soldiers will be upon us again in a moment. Pray mount quickly." "But really I cannot move," she said. "Do not let there be a double loss!" And she held out the child toward him as she spoke. "Take the child," cried Lady Mi. "His life and safety are in your hands." Again and again Zhao Yun besought her to get on his horse, but she would not. The shouting drew nearer and nearer, Zhao Yun spoke harshly, saying, "If you will not do what I say, what will happen when the soldiers come up?" She said no more. Throwing the child on the ground, she turned over and threw herself into the old well. And there she perished.
Seeing that Lady Mi had resolved the question by dying, there was nothing more to be done. Zhao Yun pushed over the wall to fill the well, and thus making a grave for the lady. Then he loosened his armor, let down the heart-protecting mirror, and placed the child in his breast. This done he slung his spear and remounted. Zhao Yun had gone but a short distance when he saw a horde of enemy led by Yan Ming, one of Cao Hong's generals. This warrior used a double edged, three pointed weapon and he offered battle. However, Zhao Yun disposed of him after a very few bouts and dispersed his men.
As the road cleared before him, Zhao Yun saw another detachment barring his way. At the head of this was a general exalted enough to display a banner with his name "Zhang He of Hejian." Zhao Yun never waited to parley but attacked. However, this was a more formidable antagonist, and half a score bouts found neither any nearer defeat. But Zhao Yun, with the child in his bosom, could only fight with the greatest caution, and so he decided to flee.
Zhang He pursued, and as Zhao Yun thought only of thrashing his steed to get away, and little of the road, suddenly he went crashing into a pit. On came his pursuer, spear at poise. Suddenly a brilliant flash of light seemed to shoot out of the pit, and the fallen horse leapt with it into the air and was again on firm earth. A bright glory surrounds the child of the imperial line, now in danger, The powerful charger forces his way through the press of battle, Bearing to safety him who was destined to the throne two score years and two; And the general thus manifested his godlike courage.
This apparition frightened Zhang He, who abandoned the pursuit forthwith, and Zhao Yun rode off. Presently he heard shouts behind, "Zhao Yun, Zhao Yun, stop!" and at the same time he saw ahead of him two generals who seemed disposed to dispute his way. Ma Yan and Zhang Yi following and Jiao Chu and Zhang Nan in front, his state seemed desperate, but Zhao Yun quailed not. As the men of Cao Cao came pressing on, Zhao Yun drew Cao Cao's own sword to beat them off. Nothing could resist the Luminous Blade. Armor, clothing, it went through without effort and blood gushed forth in fountains wherever it struck. So the four generals were soon beaten off, and Zhao Yun was once again free.
Now Cao Cao from a hilltop of the Prospect Mountain saw these deeds of derring-do and a general showing such valor that none could withstand him, so Cao Cao asked of his followers whether any knew the man. No one recognized him, so Cao Hong galloped down into the plain and shouted out, "We should hear the name of the warrior!" "I am Zhao Yun of ChangChan," replied Zhao Yun. Cao Hong returned and told his lord, who said, "A very tiger of a leader! I must get him alive."
Whereupon he sent horsemen to all detachments with orders that no arrows were to be fired from an ambush at any point Zhao Yun should pass; he was to be taken alive. And so Zhao Yun escaped most imminent danger, and Liu Shan' safety, bound up with his savior's, was also secured. On this career of slaughter which ended in safety, Zhao Yun, bearing in his bosom the child lord Liu Shan, cut down two main banners, took three spears, and slew of Cao Cao's generals half a hundred, all men of renown. Having thus fought his way out of the press, Zhao Yun lost no time in getting away from the battle field. His white battle robe was soaked in blood.
On his way, near the rise of the hills, he met with two other bodies of men under two brothers, Zhong Jin and Zhong Shen. One of these was armed with a massive ax, the other a halberd. As soon as they saw Zhao Yun, they knew him and shouted, "Quickly dismount and be bound!" The two generals appeared in front of Zhao Yun, who rode at them with his spear ready for a thrust. Zhong Jin was leading, flourishing his battle-ax. Zhao Yun engaged and very soon unhorsed him. Then Zhao Yun galloped away. Zhong Shen rode up behind ready with his halberd and his horse's nose got so close to the other's tail that in Zhao Yun could see in his armor the reflection of the play of Zhong Shen's weapon. Then suddenly, and without warning, Zhao Yun wheeled round his horse so that he faced his pursuer and their two steeds struck breast to breast. With his spear in his left hand he warded off the halberd strokes, and in his right he swung the Luminous Blade. One slash and he had cut through both helmet and head; Zhong Shen fell to the ground, a corpse with only half a head on his body. His followers fled, and Zhao Yun retook the road toward Long Slope Bridge.