Biography (SGYY): Lü Bu (Fengxian)

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Lü Bu (Fengxian)
呂布 (奉先)
(AD 159–199)

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by

Lü Bu (Fengxian)

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Wang Yun and the court officials presented themselves at the Forbidden City to start the ascension ceremony for Dong Zhuo, who arrived in his carriage. As Dong Zhuo passed through the gate, Wang Yun suddenly shouted, “The rebel is here! Where are the executioners?” From both sides soldiers leaped out and Dong Zhuo, who was not wearing his breastplate as usual, was pierced in the chest by a spear. Dong Zhuo dropped and yelled loudly for his son, “Where is Lü Bu?” “Here, and with a decree to slay a rebel!” Was Lü Bu’s answer as he stood in front of his father. There upon Lü Bu thrusts his spear into his victim’s throat. Li Sun immediately took a sword, cut off Dong Zhuo’s head, and held it high. Lü Bu produced the decree from his pocket and shouted, “The decree was to slay the rebel Dong Zhuo, no other!” The whole assembly cried out with joy, “Wan Shui! Live Forever! O Emperor!”

Next, Lü Bu urged the slaughter of Li Ru, who was already seized by a servant. Wang Yun immediately had him executed in the marketplace. Dong Zhuo’s severed head and body were displayed in a busy part of the city. The guards poked the body with sticks and used the fat to light torches. The by passing citizens would kick the body with their feet.

Wang Yun ordered Lü Bu, Huangfu Song, and Li Su to take fifty thousand troops and destroy Meiwo. When arriving at Meiwo, Lü Bu took away Diao Chan and proceeded to slaughter every member of Dong Zhuo’s family, sparing no one, not even Dong Zhuo’s aged mother. The heads of his brother Dong Ming and cousin Dong Huang were publicly displayed at the market place. The beauties of Meiwo were freed and sent back to their families. The riches of Meiwo were gathered, the wealth was enormous.

Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, and Fan Chou whom were stationed in Meiwo to guard it, fled to Shaanxi in Liang Zhou when they heard of Dong Zhuo’s death. Thanks to a plot by Jia Xu, they were able to round up over one hundred thousand troops. They divided them into four groups and planned to attack the Capital Chang An from four sides. Along the way there, they met up with Niu Fu, one of Dong Zhuo’s son-in-laws that wanted to avenge his father-in-law’s death. He joined his five thousand troops with those of the former Generals’ and became their Van Leader.

Wang Yun heard of their advance and consulted Lü Bu. “They are a lot of rats,” he said, “Never mind how many there are. There is no reason to be anxious.” Therefore, Lü Bu and Li Su met Niu Fu on the battlefield the next day, and Niu Fu was quickly outmatched. He retreated but turned back to initiate a night raid. Li Su was unprepared for this and suffered a huge defeat. Lü Bu was infuriated with Li Su’s mistake and killed him; his severed head was exposed at the entrance of the camp.

The next day, Lü Bu attacked Niu Fu himself. Lü Bu quickly overwhelmed Niu Fu and drove him off. That night, Niu Fu discussed the situation with his advisor Hu Che Er. The two decided to steal the valuables of the four generals and desert them. This plan was adopted and the two traitors left at night with their treasure. While crossing a river, Hu Che Er killed Niu Fu and took his head to Lü Bu. After inquiring about what happened, Lü Bu immediately put Hu Che Er to death and seized his treasures.

Without wasting much time, Lü Bu proceeded to attacked Li Jue’s unprepared unit. Li Jue made no effort and fell back a long way. His army took up a position under a hill fifteen miles further and called a council. He decided to trap Lü Bu in a gorge and have Guo Si attack him from the rear. Every day Lü Bu’s army was forced to retreat back and forth in and out of the gorge, his troops were never able to rest. A messenger reported that Chang An was in trouble because of the assault from Fan Chou and Zhang Ji. He dashed trough the enemy’s troops that had surrounded him for days, and his loss was heavy.

Lü Bu soon reached Chang An, however the city was surrounded by enormous armies and Lü Bu’s attacks had little effect. From inside the city, Dong Zhuo’s former cohorts Li Meng and Wang Fang opened the gates from inside to let the invading armies in. Lü Bu quickly rushed towards Back Lock Gate and called out to Wang Yun. “The case is desperate now. Ride with me to a place of safety!” Wang Yun would not leave at the urging of Lü Bu and was determined to stay to the end. Lü Bu had to leave and abandon his family in the city. He fled to seek refuge with Yuan Shu.

However, Yuan Shu rejected his offer because of Lü Bu’s instability. Thus, Lü Bu traveled north and offered his services to Yuan Shao, who was Yuan Shu’s half brother. Yuan Shao accepted his service and made us of Lü Bu’s power in an attack on Zhang Yan in Chang Shan. His success filled him with pride and his arrogant demeanor annoyed the officers so much that Yuan Shao was at the point of putting him to death. To avoid this, Lü Bu escaped to Governor Zhang Yang of Shang Dang, who accepted his service.

Around this time, Pang Shu, who had been protecting Lü Bu’s family in Chang An, returned them to Lü Bu. This angered Li Jue and Guo Si, so they had him executed and wrote a letter to Lü Bu’s Lord to do the same. To escape again, Lü Bu and his household went to Zhang Miao in Chen Liu.

Just as Lü Bu arrived at Chen Liu, Zhang Miao’s brother, Zhang Chao, was introducing Chen Gong. During the session, Chen Gong proposed a plan to attack Cao Cao in Yan Zhou while the latter was away on his campaigns in the east. And so Lü Bu was sent in the vanguard. Soon, he was in possession of Yan Zhou and its neighborhood, all except the small counties of Juan Cheng, Fang Xia and Dong Jun, which were all vigorously defended by Cheng Yu and Xun Yu. Lü Bu fought Cao Ren many times and repeatedly sent him back in shame.

Soon Cao Cao was forced to return to his territory. Lü Bu, knowing of Cao Cao’s return spoke to his subordinates Xue Lan and Li Fang, “I have long waited for the opportunity to employ your skill. I will give you ten thousand soldiers, and you are to hold Yan Zhou city while I go forth to attack Cao Cao.” Chen Gong protested against Lü Bu’s plan; however Lü Bu had no need for his advice. “I am going to Pu Yang and see what develops.” So Lü Bu left Xue Lan in charge of Yan Zhou and left.

Cao Cao and Lü Bu squared off at Pu Yang’s open plains. Lü Bu was in front of his army, followed by eight of his generals: Zhang Liao of Ma Yi, backed by Hao Meng, Cao Xing and Cheng Lian; Zhang Ba of Hua Ying, backed by Wei Xu, Song Xian and Hou Cheng. They led and army of fifty thousand men in total.

Lü Bu ordered Zhang Ba to ride forth, and Cao Cao sent Yue Jin to meet him. They exchanged some thirty blows with no advantage to either side. Then Xiahou Dun rode out to help Yue Jin, and Lü Bu sent out Zhang Liao to meet him. And thus the four fought. Then Lü Bu grew angry, he set out his Trident Spear and rushed towards them. Xiahou Dun and Yue Jin fled in fear, however Lü Bu kept pressing the attack and Cao Cao’s forced retreated ten miles and made a new camp.

Whilst rejoicing their accomplishments, Chen Gong warned Lü Bu that the western camp was scarcely defended and that Cao Cao would take advantage of it. So Lü Bu sent Gao Shun, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng to defend it.

The next day, Cao Cao attacked the camp like Chen Gong thought he would. They attacked from all four directions and the defending force was losing heavily. Cao Cao marched into the city and met with Commander Gao Shun. After the fourth watch, as dawn was breaking, Cao Cao heard war drums approaching quickly from the west. When he heard Lü Bu himself was leading the relief force, Cao Cao abandoned the attack.

Gao Shun, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng pursued him, with Lü Bu joining them in the lead. Cao Cao sent Yu Jin and Yue Jin to stop the pursuit, but they were unable to. So Cao Cao went north, only to meet the ambush of Zhang Liao and Zhang Ba. Lu Qian and Cao Hong were sent to meet them, but they were also defeated. Cao Cao sought safety in the west, but again was met by Lü Bu’s forces, this time led by Hou Meng, Cao Xing, Cheng Lian and Song Xian. Cao Cao was in grave danger and cried out for help. Dian Wei came out to help on his own. Cao Cao was able to get away and make up camp. However, Lü Bu still pursued, he called Chen Gong and asked for a new strategy. Chen Gong proposed the following, “In Pu Yang there is a rich, leading family, Tian by name, who number thousands, enough to populate a whole county. Make one of these people go to Cao Cao’s camp with a fake secret letter about Lü Bu’s ferocity, and the hatred of the people, and their desire to be rid of him. In addition, by saying that only Gao Shun is left to guard the city and they would help anyone who would come to save them. Thus, our enemy Cao Cao will be inveigled into the city, and we will destroy him either by fire or by ambush. His skill may be equal to encompassing the universe, but he will not escape.”

Therefore, the plan was set and the Tian family sent out the letter. Cao Cao went to Pu Yang as expected, around noon, two bodies of soldiers emerged from the city led by Gao Shun. Cao Cao sent Dian Wei to oppose them, though they did not come to battle, Dian Wei’s troops were stationed close to the drawbridge. The letter stated that by the first watch the next day the gates would be opened, so before the first watch Cao Cao brought his troops in formation near the west gate. A loud shout was heard and the gates opened, Cao Cao whipped up his steed and entered the city. However, as he approached the state residence, the streets were empty and Cao Cao realized that he walked into a trap. An explosion of signal bomb was heard, gong beat all around with a roar like rivers rushing backwards to their source. From the east and west, bodies of soldiers eagerly attacked; they were led by Zhang Liao and Zhang Ba. Cao Cao dashed out to the north; however, Cao Xing and Hou Meng barred him. Therefore, Cao Cao turned around towards the south, but was met by enemies led by Gao Sheng and Hou Cheng. Dian Wei, Li Dian, and Li Yue rode through the masses of enemy soldiers in an attempt to find their lord. When Cao Cao met up with Dian Wei, he once again made a dash at the north gate, Lü Bu stood in the opening calling out for Cao Cao. However, Lü Bu was fooled easily and chased the wrong rider, giving Cao Cao a chance to escape.

The next day, word reached Lü Bu’s camp that Cao Cao was burned to death in a fire during the fifth watch. Lü Bu immediately gathered his soldiers and took the Ma Ling road to attack the enemy camp. One he passed the hills, war drums could be heard from both sides and Cao Cao’s soldiers charged their enemy. Only by desperate fighting, did Lü Bu get out of the melee and back to Pu Yang. There he fortified his defenses and could not be tempted to do battle.

The next time that Cao Cao’s army came to attack, he had six generals leading the battle: Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Li Dian, Lu Qian, and Yu Jin. Lü Bu came out alone to oppose them, but soon his enemies overwhelmed him and he turned back towards the city. However, the Tian family had closed the gates and would not let him in. Lü Bu was forced to flee and Chen Gong took Lü Bu’s family and fled the city through the east gate. Pu Yang was back in Cao Cao’s hands.

Lü Bu took refuge in Ding Tao with Zhang Miao and Zhang Chao. It was harvesting season so the other generals were foraging and stocking wheat for the next few months. Lü Bu went out to scout the enemy camp, but returned when he saw that Cao Cao’s camp was located near a forest. He feared an ambush and retreated to Ding Tao.

Lü Bu decided to burn out the ambush with fire; he rode out again towards the camp and ordered his men to set fire to the woods. However, to his surprise, nobody leaped out from the woods. Still he heard the drums of his enemies, and he saw soldiers coming from the shelter in the stockade, he immediately rode forth to see what it was about. The signal bombs exploded and soldiers came out to attack Lü Bu. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Dian Wei, Xu Zhu, Li Dian, and Yue Jin led the troops. Lü Bu suffered a huge defeat, and almost two thirds of his troops were killing. His officer Cheng Lian died when an arrow hit him. The remains of the forces went back and reported this to Chen Gong. Therefore, Gao Shun and Chen Gong gathered the generals and abandoned Ding Tao. Zhang Chao committed suicide and Zhang Miao fled to Yuan Shu. Lü Bu rejoined his generals later on. The northeast had completely fallen to Cao Cao.

Lü Bu’s spirit was not yet broken, and on Chen Gong’s advice, he inquired about serving Yuan Shao once again. In response, Yuan Shao sent Yan Liang with fifty thousand troops to destroy Lü Bu. Having no means of repelling such an army, Lü Bu fled to Xu Zhou where Liu Bei was recently instated as the new Imperial Protector. Liu Bei welcomed Lü Bu with a large following. At first, Liu Bei wanted to step down as Imperial Protector and hand his title to Lü Bu, however, Lü Bu knew that it would be dangerous to do that while Guan Yu and Zhang Fei where there, so he kindly refused the offer.

A banquet was held in Lü Bu’s honour, during the festivities Lü Bu showed much appreciation, and even introduced his wife and daughter to make obeisance to their benefactor, still Liu Bei showed excessive modesty. Lü Bu said, “Good Younger Brother, you need not be so modest.” Hearing this Zhang Fei was enraged because he felt Lü Bu was patronizing Liu Bei. He had to be calmed down and removed by Guan Yu. Later when all the guests had left, Zhang Fei challenged Lü Bu, again Guan Yu had to refrain him and Liu Bei apologized profusely.

The next day, Lü Bu approached Liu Bei and informed him that he would leave because he feared that Zhang Fei and Guan Yu might cause trouble. Liu Bei offered the city of Xiao Pei to Lü Bu so he would not have to seek asylum elsewhere.

After Cao Cao rescued the Emperor, a decree was sent to Liu Bei, making him Lord of Yi Cheng, General who Conquers the East, and Imperial Protector of Xu Zhou. Lü Bu came to congratulate Liu Bei, however as they were talking, Zhang Fei approached with a sword, looking to slay Lü Bu. Liu Bei immediately tried to send him away. Lü Bu was surprised and said, “Why do you wish to slay me Zhang Fei?” “Cao Cao says you are immoral and has told my brother to slay you,” shouted Zhang Fei. Liu Bei tried to remove Zhang Fei, but instead brought Lü Bu to his private chamber, where he showed him a letter from Cao Cao, ordering Liu Bei to kill Lü Bu. Liu Bei promised Lü Bu that nothing would happen, and Lü Bu’s mind was set at ease as they drank until late in the night.

Another edict was sent to Liu Bei, this time he was to secure the areas around the river Huai and wage war with Yuan Shu. Zhang Fei and Chen Deng were left in charge of Xu Zhou while he was at war. One night, while Lü Bu is in Xiao Pei, he received a letter from his father in law, Cao Bao, whom was beaten by an angry Zhang Fei for refusing wine and his relations to Lü Bu. Chen Gong proposed that Lü Bu take advantage of Zhang Fei’s drunken stupors and perform a night raid on Xu Zhou. Lü Bu immediately went to Xu Zhou with Gao Sheng and five hundred cavalrymen. During the fourth watch, Cao Bao’s men opened the gates from inside and led Lü Bu’s men in. Zhang Fei, still drunk, put on his armour and rounded up his troops. Cao Bao pursued him, but he was easily bested by Zhang Fei and drowned in the moat after taking a spear thrust in the back.

Zhang Fei retreated and Lü Bu’s men occupied the city. He immediately put guards around Liu Bei’s residence so that his family would not be disturbed. Zhang Fei’s troops went south to Xu Yi.

As soon as the news of Lü Bu’s success reached Yuan Shu, many gifts were sent to Xu Zhou in attempt to sway Lü Bu into attacking Liu Bei. The gifts were said to contain fifty thousand carts of grain, five hundred horses, ten thousand ounces of gold and silver, and a thousand rolls of coloured silk. So Lü Bu sent Gao Shun with fifty thousand troops to attack Xu Yi. Liu Bei abandoned the city and moved his forces to Guan Ling. However, Gao Shun still attempted to claim the reward for victory from Yi Ling, who put off Gao Shun by saying that Yuan Shu was away and it would be settled later. So Gao Shun returned to Xu Zhou and Lü Bu could not decide what to do. Then a letter came from Yuan Shu, saying that no reward would be given unless Liu Bei is destroyed. Lü Bu grew angry and wanted to attack Yuan Shu, however, Chen Gong advised him to invite Liu Bei to come back instead, and then later use him to attack Yuan Shu. Lü Bu agreed to this plan and sent letters to Liu Bei asking for his return.

Liu Bei’s force was weakened by another attack, thus he returned to Xu Zhou. Lü Bu feared that Liu Bei would doubt his sincerity, so he returned Liu Bei’s family to him immediately. Lady Gan and Lady Mi told Liu Bei that they were always guarded and were treated well. As Zhang Fei escorted the ladies to Xiao Pei, Liu Bei and Guan Yu went to thank Lü Bu. Liu Bei accepted Lü Bu’s excuse for attacking Xu Zhou, and refused Lü Bu’s offer of returning the city to Liu Bei. Lü Bu signed a peace treaty with Liu Bei, and sent gifts of food to Xiao Pei.

As Lü Bu strengthened his position in Xu Zhou, an envoy from Yuan Shu arrived with two hundred thousand carts of millet, and letters written by Han Ying. Lü Bu was pleased and treated his guests cordially. Meanwhile Yuan Shu’s officers Li Ying, Lei Bo and Chen Lan attacked Xiao Pei. Liu Bei’s army was too small to defend Xiao Pei, so he sent a letter to Lü Bu asking for assistance. After reading the letter, Lü Bu summoned Chen Gong and decided that it would be best to protect Liu Bei, to make sure that Yuan Shu would not grow too strong. Yuan Shu’s forces quickly approached Xiao Pei, and Liu Bei’s army was forced to retreat back to the city after a brief fight. Lü Bu’s army arrived and camped half a mile to the southwest of Yi Ling’s camp. When Yi Ling heard of this he sent angry letters to Lü Bu, reproaching him for his treachery. In response, Lü Bu sent letters to both Liu Bei and Yi Ling to invite them for a banquet.

Liu Bei arrived first with his brothers, then Yi Ling came, and as he saw Liu Bei in the tent with Lü Bu, he tried to leave. However, Lü Bu grabbed him as if he were a child and dragged him back in. Lü Bu sat him down next to him as the banquet started. Along the course of the evening, Lü Bu asked his guests to kindly settle their difference and abandon the war. Yi Ling and Zhang Fei got in a quarrel, and neither party came to an agreement. Lü Bu stood up and bade his servant to bring his Trident spear. Both guests turned pale as he gripped the weapon. “I have tried to persuade you to make peace, for that is the command of the Most High. It shall be put to the test.” Henceforth, Lü Bu instructed his servant to place the halberd beyond the gate. Lü Bu explained that the gate was a hundred and fifty paces away and that if he could shoot an arrow to hit the left branch of the halberd head both armies would withdraw and would return to peace. If he would miss, then both sides are free to wage war. They all sat down again and Lü Bu drunk more wine. He picked up his bow and arrows, turned back his sleeves, carefully fitted an arrow to the string and pulled the bow to its utmost stretch. The arrow went straight for the halberd and hit the left branch square in the middle. Liu Bei was greatly relieved, and Yi Ling had no choice but to accept this command. Lü Bu ordered large goblets of wine, and promised Yi Ling a letter to take back to Yuan Shu, explaining what happened. After a few more rounds of wine, Ji Ling asked for the letter and departed. Liu Bei also retired, but not before Lü Bu could say, “Do not forget what I have delivered you today!”

A little while after Ji Ling had returned to his master, Han Yin came to visit Lü Bu. “My master has an immense respect for you, Illustrious Sir, and he desires to ensure perpetual alliance between the two families by a marriage, an alliance such as existed between the ancient states of Qin and Jin.” Lü Bu was very pleased, but before he made a decision, he consulted his wife, Lady Yan. She was Lü Bu’s legal first wife, Diao Chan was his concubine, and his second wife, Lady Cao, the daughter of Cao Bao had already died. Diao Chan bore him no sons; however, Lü Bu had one daughter with Lady Yan, of whom he was quite fond. When he consulted the matter with his wife, she said, “The Yuan family has dominated the regions around the River Huai for many years. They have a large army and are very prosperous. One day a Yuan will become Emperor, and our daughter may hope to become an Empress. How many sons does Yuan Shu have?” “Only this one,” Lü Bu replied. “Then we should accept the offer,” Lady Yan continued, “even if our daughter does not become Empress; Xu Zhou has a new ally.” Thus it was decided, Lü Bu gave the favourable reply to Han Yin; who he treated with the utmost generosity. A letter was sent back to Yuan Shu, who immediately sent wedding gifts for the bride’s family. They were received, and banquets filled the remainder of the day.

The next day, Chen Gong went to consult with Lü Bu. “I hear your daughter is to be married to Yuan Shu’s son, but nobody knows when.” “That is yet to be decided,” Lü Bu said. Chen Gong suggested that the marriage be concluded as fast as possible, to avoid any interference from other lords who might want to sabotage the plan. Lü Bu saw wisdom in Chen Gong’s words and immediately went to his private chambers to tell his wife and the bride-to-be. A wedding carriage was prepared, and Lü Bu selected Song Xian and Wei Xu to escort his daughter with Han Yin to Yuan Shu’s city of Shou Chun. The carriage left the city as music played loudly in the streets. At the time, Chen Gui in spite of being ill went to see Lü Bu immediately. “Noble Sir, what brings you here?” Lü Bu asked. “I heard you were dead and I came to mourn,” the old man said. “Who said that?” Exclaimed Lü Bu. “Once upon a time you received grand presents from Yuan Shu that you might slay Liu Bei, but you got out by that clever shot at your halberd. Now they suddenly seek a marriage alliance thinking to get hold of your daughter as a pledge. The next move will be an attack on Xiao Pei and, that gone, where are you? Whatever they ask in future, grain or troops or anything else, and you yield, will bring your own end nearer, and make you hated all round. If you refuse, then you are false to the duties of a relative, and that will be an excuse to attack you openly. Beside this Yuan Shu intends to call himself Emperor, which would be rebellious, and you would be of the rebel’s family: Something abominable, which the multitude people would not suffer.” Lü Bu was very disturbed by this revelation and immediately ordered Zhang Liao to retrieve the wedding carriage and send it back home. When they came back, Lü Bu threw Han Yin in jail and sent a letter to Yuan Shu saying that his daughter’s wedding trousseau was not yet ready and that she could not come until it was taken care of.

Chen Gui wanted to send Han Yin to Xu Chang to be trialled, but Lü Bu hesitated when he heard that Liu Bei was rounding up soldiers and horses. Song Xian and Wei Xu came in; they reported that after they bought three hundred horses in the Hua Shang Mountains, rogues on the border of Xiao Pei’s territory attacked them and stole half of their horses. “We hear that the real robbers were Zhang Fei and his soldiers, who took on the guise of brigands.” Lü Bu was furious and immediately assembled his army near Xiao Pei and waited for Liu Bei to appear. Liu Bei rode to the front of his army and said, “Elder brother, why have you brought an army against me?” Lü Bu told Liu Bei of Zhang Fei’s act and immediately Zhang Fei came to challenge Lü Bu, “Yes; I took your horses and you get angry. You did not say any thing when you stole my brother’s Xu Zhou.” Lü Bu rode forth and the two warriors engaged in a reckless battle. They fought for a hundred bouts, without any advantage to either side. Liu Bei recalled Zhang Fei from battle and offered Lü Bu to have all the horses returned in exchange for peace. Lü Bu was ready to accept when Chen Gong interfered, “You will only continue to suffer if you do not get rid of Liu Bei.” Lü Bu was swayed and his army advanced on Xiao Pei.

Liu Bei’s army retired and by the fourth watch, his whole forces left Xiao Pei through the north gate. Song Xian and Wei Xu pursued but were driven off by Zhang Fei. Zhang Liao tried as well, but was deterred by Guan Yu. Lü Bu made no effort to chase Liu Bei and entered Xiao Pei, where he made Gao Shun the new Governor.

While Lü Bu strengthened the defenses of Xu Zhou, Cao Cao was fighting with Zhang Xiu and Jia Xu. Liu Bei took refuge with Cao Cao in Xu Chang and enjoyed his protection. At this time, the Imperial Legate Wang Ze arrived in Xu Zhou. Lü Bu went to receive his guest and escorted him to his private residence, where his decree was read. It conferred the title of General Who Pacifies the East to Lü Bu, and it came with a special seal to confirm it. At the same time, a messenger from Yuan Shu arrived. After he was introduced, he said “My master’s project of declaring himself emperor is advancing. He has already built a palace and will speedily choose an Empress and concubines, and would come to the South of River Huai. He is looking forward to receiving the fiancée of the Heir Apparent.” Lü Bu had the messenger put to death and declared Yuan Shu a rebel to the Han. At the same time, Han Yin was put in a cage and sent to Xu Chang along with a letter of thanks. He also replied to Cao Cao’s private letter to confirm his title of Protectors of Xu Zhou. Chen Deng took up the task of going to Xu Zhou in Lü Bu’s place. Cao Cao was pleased to hear of the marriage failure and immediately had Han Yin put to death in the market place.

When Chen Deng returned to Xu Zhou, Lü Bu inquired about the visit. “My father received a generous annuity, and I was made Governor of Guang Ling.” Chen Deng said. Lü Bu was enraged, “You did not ask Xuzhou for me, but you got something for yourself. Your father advised me to help Cao Cao by breaking off the marriage, and now I get nothing at all of what I asked, while you and your father get everything. I have been victimized by your father.” Chen Deng explained why Lü Bu was wrong, “When I saw Cao Cao, I said that to keep you going was like feeding a tiger. The tiger must be kept fully fed or he would eat humans. However, Cao Cao laughed and replied, ‘No not that. One must treat the Commander like a falcon. Do not feed it until the foxes and hares are done. Hungry, the bird is of use; full fed it flies away.’ I asked who the quarries were. He replied, ‘Yuan Shu of the South of River Huai, Sun Ce of the South Land, Yuan Shao of Ji Zhou, Liu Biao of Jing Zhou, Liu Zhang of Yi Zhou, and Zhang Lu of Han Zhong; these are the foxes and hares.’” Lü Bu laughed, but his laughter would be short as a message came, saying that Yuan Shu was advancing his armies towards Lü Bu’s Xu Zhou.

The angry Yuan Shu sent Grand Commander Zhang Xun with two hundred thousand troops to Xu Zhou. The army consisted of seven divisions under seven commanders: Zhang Xun led the Centre Army; Qiao Rui, the First Left Army; Lei Bo, the Second Left Army; Han Xian, the Third Left Army; Chen Ji, First Right Army; Chen Lan, Second Right Army; and Yang Feng, the Third Right Army. Each commander was instructed to make a certain town his objective.

Lü Bu found out from his scouts that his own Xuzhou City (2) was the objective of Zhang Xun; the other towns to be first attacked were Xiao Pei, Yi Du, Lang Ye, Jie Shi, Xia Pi, and Jun Shan. The invading armies were marching twenty miles a day, and plundering the countryside as they advanced. Lü Bu called all his advisors to his court to discuss the matter. Chen Gong blamed the attack on the schemes of Chen Gui and Chen Deng. However, Chen Deng only laughed at Chen Gong’s anxiety and presented Lü Bu with a plan to destroy Yuan Shu’s army. “Yuan Shu’s troops are numerous but they are only a flock of crows; they are not an army under a leader. There is no mutual confidence. I can keep them at bay with the ordinary guards of the city and could overcome them by some unsuspected stratagem. If I should fail, I have another plan by which I can not only protect the region but also capture our enemy.” Chen Deng continued. “Han Xian and Yang Feng, two of the leaders of our enemies, are old servants of the Han Dynasty who fled from fear of Cao Cao and, being homeless, sought refuge with Yuan Shu. He despises them, and they are dissatisfied with his service. A little letter from the court will secure their help as our allies, and with Liu Bei to help us on the outside, we can certainly overcome Yuan Shu.” Lü Bu gave the plan a chance and ordered Chen Deng to carry out the plan. A memorial was sent to the capital, relaying the strategy that would deal with the traitor Yuan Shu (3).

2: Every Province, or Zhou, had a capital City with the same name was the province itself. For example, Liu Bei served Liu Yan in You Zhou city, in You Zhou province. In this case, Xu Zhou city refers to the Capital city of the Province Xu Zhou, and not Xu Zhou as a whole.
3: Using the Imperial Seal that he borrowed from Sun Ce, Yuan Shu declared himself Emperor in the year AD 197 This act was treason against the Han rule and made Yuan Shu a legitimate traitor.

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Copyright © 2002–2003
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong