Accompanying Liu Bei
in his quest were Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, a warrior who wielded an 18-foot
Octane-Serpent Spear. Zhang Fei rose up with the confederate league
to expel Dong Zhuo from Luoyang. In the struggle at Tigertrap Pass,
he intercepted Lu Bu's spear with his spear to save Gongsun Zan. Zhang
Fei and Lu Bu fought one-on-one as the din of their blows rose to the
skies. Though neither man could gain an edge, Zhang Fei won military
glory with the display of his prowess. He is said to have a strength
of Lu Bu and a fighting skill of Ma Chao. Cheng Yu, a rival, remarked
out of fear and admiration, "The strength of Zhang Fei and Guan Yu combined
is equal to an army of ten thousand soldiers!"
When Cao Cao descended on the south, forcing
Liu Bei to flee, Zhang Fei retaliated alone. He was menacing as he rode
up to the Changban bridge and bellowed in a thunderous voice, "I am
Zhang Fei of Yan! Is there a single one of you who dares meet my wrath?"
Paralyzed in terror, Cao Cao's men could neither advance nor retreat.
One general among them reeled and came crashing down from his steed.
His courage broken. Cao Cao whipped his horse and fled at full speed
with his army stampeding after him. Thus, Zhang Fei helped Liu Bei out
of a dangerous situation.
Impressive though he was, vulgarity was
second nature to Zhang Fei. On more than one occasion he was defeated
because of his weakness for wine. He rectified his mistakes by helping
Liu Bei gain headway into the Shu kingdom. Zhang Fei went out to challenge
their prime contender, Yan Yan. For the first time in his career, he
coupled reason and force to his advantage. Feigning a drunken scene,
he lured Yan Yan out into the open and captured him. Yan Yan struggled
and cried, "Behead every man in my district if you want, but not one
will ever submit to you!" Struck by these heroic words, Zhang Fei showed
his respect by releasing him. Overcome by the change in his captor,
Yan Yan decided to surrender. Thereafter, Zhang Fei always created a
plan before going to battle. Thus, he later overthrew Zhang He and took
possesion of Hanzhong.
Zhang Fei was civil with men of rank,
but he had no patience for subordinates. Liu Bei was constantly reproaching
him, "You are too quick to deal out heavy penalties and many men die
by your word. Every day a man suffers by the whip in your camp. Beaten
men do not constitute a loyal army!" However, he was deaf to advice.
When Zhang Fei went out to avenge Guan Yu's death, two bitter officers,
Fan Jiang and Zhang Da, approached him while he slumbered and stabbed
him to death.