Heroic Tales of the Three Kingdoms Pt. 3
AN ENCOUNTER WITH ZHUGE LIANG
During the Battle at Guandu, Cao Cao moved five army units towards Liu Bei as a means of confusing Yuan Shao of his motives. Cao Cao himself was camped near Yuan Shao, but his banners flew in front of his other adversary. Liu Bei saw that he was in a dangerous position, and took refuge with Liu Biao. If Cao Cao successfully gained control of the northeast territories, his next tactical move would be to head southward. With that in mind, Liu Bei suggested to Liu Biao that they prepare a surprise attack and destroy Cao Cao before he had a chance to assail their territory. However, Liu Biao feared Cao Cao too much to make a move in any direction.
Liu Bei remained with Liu Biao for some time before he began to lament over his own listlessness and itch for a chance to get back into action. Liu Biao's wife noticed how Liu Bei sighed, and sensed that he had intentions to betray them. She arranged to have him murdered, but her plans reached Liu Bei's ears and he fled. In his escape he had to struggle across a treacherous river. When he reached the other side he met Sima Hui, a great master that lived a secluded life in nature. Sima Hui was known as the "Water-mirror."
Sima Hui knew of Liu Bei's virtuous reputation, and assured him that he would be successful with the right advisors to aid him. "At this moment, brilliant minds can be found in our midst. You ought to seek their guidance. With the help of either the Hidden Dragon or the Phoenix Fledgling, you could restore order in the Empire." But, he would not tell Liu Bei where to find such men.
It so happened that Liu Bei had a particular advisor by the name of Xu Shu, who Cao Cao wanted under his own service. By the trickery of a forged letter, Xu Shu was convinced that his mother suffered mistreatment in the capital. Xu Shu was truly loyal to Liu Bei, however filial piety demanded that he rescue his mother. Before he left, he gave Liu Bei one last valuable piece of information: "Zhuge Liang is known as the Hidden Dragon, The Phoenix Fledgling is Pang Tong."
Liu Bei learned that the Hidden Dragon lived a cloistered life filled with introspection and study of the classics. On the first and second visit Liu Bei was turned away by an apprentice. Finally, on his third visit he was allowed to see the wise man. Liu Bei's perseverance is remembered in these three visits. As they talked Liu Bei outlined his desires to restore the Han Dynasty to its former state of glory. Zhuge Liang was pleased with his goals and offered him advice based on Cao Cao's victory over Yuan Shao.
Cao did not have the power to overcome Yuan Shao, but he beat him with clever
strategy. Now he has secured the court and uses it as a tool to control a
vast military. Hence, you should avoid conflict with him at this time. Sun
Quan is successful east of the river, his family has held the area for three
generations. He has a strong following, therefore rather than attacking, you
must befriend him. If you look to the west, Yizhou is a fertile land and holds
auspicious meaning for your pursuit, it is the land of the founder of the
In other words, he pointed out that in order to conquer Cao Cao, Liu Bei would need to ally with another power, Sun Quan, and acquire a base to work from, Jingzhou and Yizhou. Thus, Zhuge Liang judged that the Three Kingdoms Design was at work.
"Even if you gain possession of Jingzhou and Yizhou," he continued, "you will have to contend with the west and the south. Join in harmony with the tribes to the west and south, ally with Sun Quan, and maintain a good government. Heaven will award an opportunity to realize your aspirations in due time. Then you can send an esteemed general into Luoyang, while you push on to Changan. The people will welcome you. Follow this design and you will direct the restoration of Han."
The path to the capital seemed to open up before him as Liu Bei thought over these words. He bowed in acknowledgement of such intuitive counsel. Zhuge Liang was moved by Liu Bei's humble attitude- he was a respected leader, yet he had made three trips to his door for advice. Thus on Liu Bei's third visit he and Zhuge Liang swore themselves as master and servant, vowing to see through the Three Kingdoms Design. At the time of their union Liu Bei was 48 and Zhuge Liang was 27 years of age.
THE BATTLE AT RED WALL
Liu Biao's health was poor, and Zhuge Liang pressed Liu Bei to take over Jingzhou while he was weak. Yet, Liu Bei could not bring himself to usurp power from a man that had shown him kindness. Hence, when Liu Biao died, his young son Liu Zong succeeded him, he was fourteen years old.
Liu Zong knew that he was not well-liked, therefore he offered the whole district of Jingzhou to Cao Cao as a means of protecting his own interests. Cao Cao accepted Liu Zong's submission and took over Jingzhou effortlessly.
Taking advantage of the turn in events, Cao Cao thrust an ultimatum at Sun Quan in the Wu Kingdom. After consulting with Zhang Zhao and his other advisors, Sun Quan realized that his only option left was to surrender. Not only was Cao Cao in control of the imperial decree to unify the empire, but his naval forces were building up at Jingzhou, and the Yangtze River area would soon fall to him. Only one man urged him to defy Cao Cao, he was Lu Su.
point Sun Quan's advisors were leaning heavily towards submitting to Cao Cao,
and Lu Su knew he had to pressure Sun Quan. He called in Zhuge Liang to offer
his advice. As a result, a new plan was drawn up for Sun Quan and Liu Bei
to create a joint defense against Cao Cao.
Zhuge Liang said, "When Cao Cao took over Jingzhou he drove Liu Bei away. He is gaining in power all the time. General, check your army and decide if you can meet his challenge. If so, dispatch the entire Wu army without delay. Otherwise, cease all military activity and surrender to him. Great misfortune is in store if you waver at all in your decision."
"Why does not Liu Bei yield?" questioned Sun Quan.
"As seen in the tale of Tien Heng of old, at times character is too noble to give in. Liu Bei is from the Han family and a man of unusual talent. He will resist Cao Cao to the end, and never submit to any below his rank. Only the Heavens can foretell his fate."
With these last words Sun Quan exploded, "Wu will fight to the death! I have decided, I will send one hundred thousand soldiers to join Liu Bei against Cao Cao. But Liu Bei needs time to recover from his last loss."
"Although beaten back," Zhuge Liang responded, "Liu Bei has over ten thousand men, including Guan Yu's navy, and Liu Qi still leads a brigade of ten thousand. Cao Cao may have power in numbers, but in truth they are inexperienced on the water. Together you can destroy Cao Cao and force him to retreat into the north. Then Jingzhou and your kingdom, Wu, will be secure. But you must act now."
Zhou Yu, a veteran general from Sun Ce's days offered his opinion as well. "Cao Cao has many weak points that foreshadow our success. Firstly, Ma Teng and Han Sui threaten his rear guard. Secondly, Cao Cao challenges with his navy, yet we know that northern men are inexperienced at naval warfare. Thirdly, the past winter wiped out his feed supplies for his horses. And lastly, his soldiers are men from the central district, they are unaccustomed to our climate along the river and will be afflicted by malaria. With all these points against him, Cao Cao can be defeated with ease." Sun Quan grew even more determined after hearing these words. He appointed Zhou Yu as the Commander-in-Chief and the Admiral Navy of Wu.
Zhou Yu started out in advance with Lu Su and Cheng Pu, leading an army thirty thousand strong, Sun Quan mobilized an even greater force and took up the rear guard. Finally, the enemies confronted each other at Red Wall, and Cao Cao and Zhou Yu put their strategies into action.
The first match on the water was uneventful, but Zhou Yu gained some information about the enemy. Cao Cao sent out Jiang Gan to persuade Zhou Yu to surrender, but nothing he said could make him budge. Jiang Gan returned with a letter saying that Cai Mao and Zhang Yun, who feigned defection over to Zhou Yu, were traitors. They promised to deliver Cao Cao's head to Zhou Yu. Cao Cao had the two generals executed immediately, yet actually the whole story was part of Zhou Yu's plan to eliminate the best generals in the enemy camp. In retaliation Cao Cao sent Cai Mao's younger cousins Cai Zhong and Cai He into Zhou Yu's camp as spies.
Zhou Yu saw through Cao Cao's strategy and manipulated the spies to his own advantage. Huang Gai, a Wu general, feigned a rebellion in front of them, and to impress the spies he was whipped in public. When Cao Cao heard the reports that enemy generals were turning against their leader, he sent Jiang Gan over to scout out potential defectors. In another clever scheme, Pang Tong returned with Jiang Gan and designed a plan for Cao Cao's navy. According to his "Chain Link" plan, all of Cao Cao's ships were locked together with iron chains. Thus Pang Tong, who was loyal to Zhou Yu all along, maneuvered the enemy into a battle formation that stood no chance against the incendiary attack to come.
Huang Gai faked defection again and led a dummy surrender ship laden with inflammables straight into the chain-linked ships. With a gust of wind from the south-east, the ships were consumed in a furious blaze. Then Zhou Yu and his men burst forth and assailed the frantic sailors while Cao Cao struggled to escape the merciless scene.
Cao Cao's forces were completely routed and his nationwide conquest was utterly crushed at Red Wall. Liu Bei benefited the most from this joint victory. He clinched Jingzhou and the southern districts, as planned, rounding off the foundations for three opposing powers.