Biography (SGYY): Sun Ce (Bofu)

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Sun Ce (Bofu)
孫策 (伯符)
(AD 175 - 200)

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Authored by Morgan Evans

Sun Ce (Bofu)

Sun Ce, styled Bofu, was born in AD 175 in Fuchun County in the Wu commandery. When Sun Jian joined the alliance against Dong Zhuo in AD 190, he moved his family from his home to Shu County in the Lu Jiang commandery. It was here that the fourteen-year-old Ce met the Zhou family, befriending their son Zhou Yu. The two teenagers quickly became very good friends and eventually swore an oath of brotherhood, with Sun Ce being the older brother due to being two months senior. When Sun Jian’s forces recaptured the burnt out and abandoned capital city of Luoyang, he found the Imperial Hereditary Seal of the Emperor hidden in a well. At the advice of his officer Cheng Pu, Jian would return to Changsha with the Seal but soon Yuan Shao learned the whereabouts of the Seal and as Jian traveled home through Jingzhou, he was attacked by the forces of Liu Biao in a failed attempt to recover it.

In AD 192, Yuan Shu proposed that he and Sun Jian should ally against their common enemies so Sun Jian prepared his army to go to war with Liu Biao and take his revenge. Sun Ce decided to accompany his father and they set off with their army on a fleet of ships to attack Fankou in Jingzhou. The army scored quick successes when they arrived and soon had marched onto Dengcheng where they gained another victory, killing Liu Biao’s officers Zhang Hui and Cheng Sheng while forcing Huang Zu to retreat to Xiangyang. While the city was being sieged, Sun Jian fell into an ambush laid by Lu Gong and was killed. Sun Ce took command of the Southlands army and withdrew, burying his father in the plains of Qu’e.

When he returned to Changsha, seventeen-year-old Sun Ce became a kind and generous ruler who surrounded himself with wise and brave men. However, trouble brewed between Ce’s uncle Governor Wu Jing of Dangyang and Imperial Protector of Xuzhou, Tao Qian, so Sun Ce relocated his entire family to Qu’e and went to serve Yuan Shu. Sun Ce was given the rank of commander and was sent on numerous campaigns which were all successful, gaining him Yuan Shu’s admiration. Yuan Shu claimed to love Sun Ce as a son but Bofu felt patronized and became bitter towards him. After returning from a successful campaign in Lujiang against Lu Kang, Ce lamented his situation to one of his father’s men, Zhu Zhi, who suggested that Bofu should leave Yuan Shu’s command. Zhu Zhi proposed a plan and while they discussed this one of Yuan Shu’s advisors, Lu Fan, joined them pledging one hundred troops to their cause. A few days later Sun Ce went to see Yuan Shu and pretending to be struck with grief he said “I have been unable to avenge my father. Now the Imperial Protector of Yangzhou, Liu Yao, is opposing my mother’s brother, and my mother and her family are in danger in Qu’e. Wherefore I would borrow a few thousands of fighting men to rescue them. As perhaps, Illustrious Sir, you may lack confidence in me, I am willing to deposit the Imperial Hereditary Seal, left me by my late father, as a pledge.” Yuan Shu had long desired the seal and so readily loaned him three thousand men with five hundred horses and obtained him the title of General Who Exterminates Brigands. He was given command over his father’s generals along with Lu Fan and they soon set out for Yangzhou.

As the army reached Linyang they met a body of troops led by Ce’s childhood friend Zhou Yu who was on his way to visit Wu Jing. The sworn brothers rejoiced at this chance meeting and Ce confided his plans to his friend. Zhou Yu pledged to serve Ce and recommended the services of two geniuses Zhang Zhao and Zhang Hong who were quickly recruited and given rank. Liu Yao had heard of the advancing army and called his generals to a meeting. General Zhang Ying offered to lead an army to Niuzhu which could be easily defended and this plan was agreed upon. Taishi Ci requested that he be given the van but his request was denied by Liu Yao, who felt that he was too young for such a task.

When Sun Ce’s army arrived at Niuzhu, Zhang Ying rode out and gave battle to Huang Gai, but Ying had to abandon the fight when a fire started in his camp. Taking advantage of the situation, Sun Ce advanced his army and captured Niuzhu while the opposing army fled. The fires had been set by Jiang Qin and Zhou Tai who had heard of Sun Ce’s good treatment of able people and wished to join him along with their three hundred men. Sun Ce welcomed both men along with four thousand of Zhang Ying’s men who wished to surrender and then marched the army towards Shenting. Meanwhile, Liu Yao reassigned Zhang Ying to guard Lingling and then personally led out an army to the south of the Sacred Hills. Sun Ce’s army drew up and camped on the north side of the hills and he personally went up to pray at the temple that stood at the top of the hill. Afterwards Ce insisted upon reconnoitering the enemy’s camp despite the advice of his generals but was quickly spotted by enemy soldiers. Liu Yao feared a trap and would not go out to engage the enemy but Taishi Ci charged out with a low ranking commander determined to capture Sun Ce. Just as Sun Ce was about to return to camp he saw the two men approaching and quickly Ce and Taishi Ci were in heated battle. Neither could gain an advantage over the other so Taishi Ci feigned defeat and retreated down to the plains below them with Sun Ce in pursuit. Suddenly Taishi Ci turned and the fight began anew but again neither man could gain an advantage. The two men managed to seize each other and fell to the ground from their horses. They began to fight hand-to-hand. Ce grabbed the short lance which Taishi Ci carried on his back, and at the same time Taishi Ci ripped Ce’s helmet off and used it as a shield against his own weapon. Before either man could gain an advantage, Liu Yao approached with a thousand soldiers and Bofu’s men arrived resulting in a confused fight between the two sides. Although severely outnumbered, Sun Ce’s twelve followers fought long enough for Zhou Yu to arrive with reinforcements leading to a huge battle which raged on until the evening when a storm caused both sides to withdraw. The next morning Sun Ce led his army to Liu Yao’s camp where he waved Taishi Ci’s captured lance, taunting the enemy soldiers but they, in return, hung Ce’s helmet over the camp’s walls and taunted him back. It did not take long for Taishi Ci to ride out and challenge Bofu to a fight to the death but Cheng Pu accepted the challenge on behalf of his lord. The two warriors met and neither showed signs of gaining an advantage until suddenly Liu Yao sounded the retreat. Taishi Ci was confused as to why the retreat had been called for but Liu Yao explained that Qu’e had fallen to a surprise attack by Zhou Yu aided by the traitor Chen Wu and that they needed to send to Moling for help from Xue Li and Ze Rong. Noting that the advantage was theirs, Zhang Zhao proposed that a night raid should be carried out on the enemy’s camp, so Sun Ce divided his force into five divisions and led out the attack. The raid was successful as their foes scattered before them, only Taishi Ci made a stand but soon he too had to abandon the fight, fleeing to Jingxian.

Sun Ce appointed his latest acquisition, Chen Wu, commander and leader of the Van against Xue Li, during which he scored great success but Xue Li would not come out to fight. However, during the siege, news came that Liu Yao and Ze Rong were attacking Niuzhu causing Sun Ce to break off the attack in order to travel to and defend Niuzhu. When Ce arrived at Niuzhu he offered a challenge which was met by Yu Mi who was no match for Bofu and was quickly captured. However, Yu Mi’s colleague Fan Neng rode out to attack Ce but as he approached, Sun Ce turned about with a great shout that caused Fan Neng to fall from his horse. The fall killed Fan Neng and soon Yu Mi was found to have been crushed between the arm and torso of his captor. Sun Ce was from here on known as the Little Conqueror. With these two officers defeated many of Liu Yao’s force surrendered and of those who didn’t, ten thousand were slain while Liu Yao took refuge with Liu Biao. With Liu Yao defeated, Sun Ce marched on to Moling where he ordered the defenders to surrender but as a response an arrow was fired which hit Bofu in the left thigh, knocking him from his horse. He was picked up by his officers and the army returned to camp so that their commander’s injury could be treated. By Sun Ce’s command it was leaked to Xue Li’s men that Sun Ce had perished from the wound. Xue Li fell for the ruse and rode out with Zhang Ying and Chen Heng into a carefully prepared ambush led by Ce himself. The sudden sight of a man they believed dead caused Xue Li’s force to panic, many of the men fell to the ground while the three officers were slain in the chaos. Sun Ce ordered that the enemy troops not be harmed and then he took possession of Moling where he treated the residents well.

Sun Ce next went to attack Jingxian where Taishi Ci was gathering an army to avenge his master. While he had added an additional two thousand men to his command, the majority of these men were undisciplined hill men and Taishi Ci also had another problem: the walls of Jingxian were incredibly low and would not sustain a siege. Sun Ce and Zhou Yu had drawn up a plan to capture Taishi Ci so Chen Wu was sent to set fire to the city and when the flames caught, Taishi Ci had no choice but to retreat through the one gate that Ce’s men had deliberately left unguarded. As soon as Taishi Ci left the city he was pursued by Sun Ce until an ambush sprung up and captured him. Ce loosened his captive’s bonds and warmly welcomed him, even throwing a banquet for Taishi Ci who formally surrendered. Exhibiting his trust in his newfound officer, Bofu allowed Ci to go and recruit former soldiers for Liu Yao even though his advisors protested, saying that Taishi Ci would not return. Ci’s faith was rewarded when Taishi Ci returned with over a thousand of Liu Yao’s former troops. With his growing army, the Little Conqueror easily captured the entire southeast of the Great River as his enemies scattered before him. Ce maintained order and improved living conditions for the people which saw his supporters grow in number rapidly who often referred to him as Sun Ce the Bright. Ce’s power continued to grow as he offered unprecedented kindness to the people, he ensured that his army did not loot captured cities and towns and he treated his former enemies’ soldiers well, even going as far as to reward those soldiers who chose to retire from service.

Ce soon settled his family at Qu’e but sent his younger brother Sun Quan to rule the city of Xuancheng along with Zhou Tai while he went south to attack Wujun. Yan Baihu, who ruled Wujun, had heard of the oncoming army and dispatched his brother Yan Yu to route them and this force met the invading force at Maple Bridge. Yan Yu quickly found himself ambushed by Jiang Qin with Chen Wu and had no choice but to retreat back into the city which was immediately sieged by Sun Ce’s force. After three days of siege and an impressive show of marksmanship by Taishi Ci, Yan Baihu realized that his situation was hopeless and so sent his brother Yan Yu to negotiate peace. Yan Yu proposed that the region be shared equally between Baihu and Ce which angered Bofu, “The rat! How dare he put himself on a level with me?” and with that, Ce killed the messenger and sent his head back to his brother. Yan Baihu now knew that resistance was futile and fled to Yuhang where he was attacked and run off to Kuaiji by villagers led by Ling Cao. For their acts, Ling Cao and his son Ling Tong were well received and made Commanders by Sun Ce. The Little Conqueror’s army now advanced to Kuaiji where Governor Wang Lang was determined to defend his friend Yan Baihu and the two armies met at Shanyin. Just as the battle started, Wang Lang’s army were attacked from behind by a small force led by Cheng Pu and Zhou Yu and with no hope of success, Wang Lang withdrew into the city where they made preparations to defend against the inevitable siege. The siege was fierce and each wall of the castle was attacked but Sun Ce’s uncle, Jing, suggested that they attack Wang Lang’s storage facility at Chadu in order to dislodge the city’s defenders. Sun Ce approved of the plan and gave orders for the army to march south, but soon after they marched Yan Baihu and Zhou Xin with five thousand soldiers set out after them. As the pursuing army caught up with Sun Ce’s army, an ambush sprung up around them and Yan Baihu found himself face to face with The Little Conqueror. Zhou Xin rushed forward but fell to Ce’s spear while Yan Baihu barely escaped. Wang Lang heard of the army’s defeat and fled to the coast leaving the city of Kuaiji as easy pickings for Sun Ce.

Sun Ce quickly restored order to Kuaji and after a few days a man named Dong Xi came bearing the head of Yan Baihu as a gift to Ce. Dong Xi was made Commander while Sun Jing was placed in command of the city and Zhu Zhi became Governor of Wujun. With all settled in the Southeast, Sun Ce returned home. However, with Sun Ce out of the region a group of bandits launched a surprise attack on Xuancheng and the city quickly fell. Sun Quan was saved by the heroic actions of Zhou Tai who was seriously injured in the process. Hearing of the attack on the city, Sun Ce returned to the region and was deeply upset to find Zhou Tai so close to death. Sun Ce summoned the renowned surgeon Hua Tuo who successfully treated Zhou Tai’s wounds. With Zhou Tai healing, Sun Ce turned his attention to the bandits and utterly destroyed them.

With peace restored to the Southlands, Sun Ce set up garrisons at all the strategic points across the state. Bofu then memorialized the throne outlining his accomplishments and then wrote to Yuan Shu demanding the return of the Imperial Seal. However, Yuan Shu made excuses and would not return the Seal. Instead Yuan Shu proposed attacking Sun Ce, but was advised by his officers to attack the weaker Liu Bei instead. Yuan Shu’s arrogance increased and declaring himself Emperor, attacked the forces of Lü Bu and Liu Bei but lost badly. After returning home, Yuan Shu wrote to Sun Ce requesting troops but Sun Ce refused saying “On the strength of holding the State Seal, he calls himself emperor and rebels against the Hans. I would rather punish such a renegade than help him.” Soon afterwards, a messenger arrived from Cao Cao with Sun Ce’s appointment as Governor of Kuaji and orders to attack Yuan Shu. Zhang Zhao advised against attacking Yuan Shu and instead suggested writing back to Cao Cao proposing a joint attack (1), a strategy Sun Ce put into action. Cao Cao received the letter from Sun Ce and assembled an army of 170,000 men with which to attack Yuan Shu. On their way, Cao Cao’s army was joined by Liu Bei and Lü Bu’s forces and when the battle begun, Yuan Shu found himself quickly surrounded. Cao Cao attacked from the north, Liu Bei from the south, Lü Bu from the east and Sun Ce’s armada approached from the west. The land forces scored a quick victory forcing Yuan Shu to retreat across the River Huai while Cao Cao sieged and captured the city of Shouchun. While Cao Cao and his advisers considered their next course of action, news came that Zhang Xiu with support from Liu Biao was attacking and that rebellions had broken out in Nanyang and Jiangling. While Cao Cao dealt with Zhang Xiu, Sun Ce’s army was charged with guarding the Great River and preventing Liu Biao from coming to his ally’s rescue. When the hostilities ended Cao Cao wrote a memorial to the throne outlining the good services Sun Ce had rendered, resulting in Sun Ce being made Lord of Wu and gaining the title General Who Destroys Rebels.

(1) Zhang Zhao’s argument: “Although recently defeated, Yuan Shu has large army and ample supplies. He is not to be attacked lightly. You had better write to Cao Cao persuading him to attack the South of River Huai and we will be auxiliaries. Between the two armies, Yuan Shu must certainly be defeated. If by the remotest chance we lose, we have Cao Cao to come to our rescue.”

In AD 199 Sun Ce continued his quest to conquer everything on the southeast of the Great River, capturing Yuzhang and Lujiang. He then sent Zhang Hong to the capital with a memorial to the Emperor explaining his victories but when the memorial arrived, Cao Cao became concerned that Bofu was becoming a powerful rival. To bond his family to the Suns, Cao Cao had his niece (2) marry Sun Ce’s youngest brother, Sun Kuang, and kept Zhang Hong at the capital. Soon after, Sun Ce memorialised the throne for the title Grand Commander but Cao Cao prevented him attaining it (3). Sun Ce deeply resented the move and started planning an attack on Cao Cao. Xu Gong, who was the Governor of Wujun, sent a letter to Cao Cao advising him that Sun Ce was becoming a danger and that Cao Cao should recall Bofu to the capital but the messenger carrying the letter was captured and sent to Sun Ce, who immediately executed him. Sun Ce then summoned the unsuspecting Xu Gong and had him strangled to death. Xu Gong’s family went into hiding but some of his men vowed to avenge him. While Sun Ce was hunting a deer one day he chased it deep into the woods where he encountered three armed men who identified themselves as being part of Han Dang’s army. As Sun Ce turned away, one of the men stabbed him in the thigh with a spear. Ce drew his sword but as he swung at his enemy, the blade of the sword broke off and dropped to the ground. One of the other assassins fired an arrow which hit Ce in the cheek, but he bravely pulled the arrow out and fired back at his attacker who was killed. The other two men continued to stab Bofu with their spears shouting “We are Xu Gong’s men and his avengers!” but Sun Ce had no weapon with which to defend himself other than his bow. As the battle turned for the worse, Cheng Pu with some officers arrived and cut the assassins into pieces. However, Sun Ce’s injuries were serious so his men tore up his robes to bind the wounds and carried him home. Hua Tuo, who had treated Zhou Tai, was summoned but Ce’s men could not find him so instead they brought one of the surgeon’s students. The doctor treated Ce and advised him that “The arrowheads were poisoned, and the poison has penetrated deep. It will take a hundred days of perfect repose before danger will be past. But if you give way to passion or anger, the wounds will not heal.” Sun Ce was unhappy with this news and did not look forward to such a long recovery, but he remained calm for over twenty days until Zhang Hong returned from Xuchang. Zhang Hong informed Sun Ce that Cao Cao feared him and that Cao’s advisers all had the utmost respect for Bofu except Guo Jia who had referred to him as not being a serious concern as he saw Ce as being hasty, deficient in terms of strategy and a foolhardy man who would die at the hand of a scoundrel (4). This slight greatly angered Sun Ce who swore to invade Xuchang and immediately wanted to make preparations despite his advisor’s protests. With that, Chen Zhen arrived with a message from Yuan Shao proposing a joint attack on Cao Cao which greatly pleased Ce. A banquet was held with his officers to discuss plans for the attack on Cao Cao but during the feast Sun Ce noticed that many of his officers were whispering to each other and leaving one by one. An attendant informed Ce that the Daoist priest Yu Ji, who was regarded as an immortal, was passing by and that the officers were leaving the banquet to honour the wise man. Bofu was angered to see a crowd gathered around the priest paying their respects and burning incense, so he ordered the man to be brought before him despite the protests of the attendants. When the attendants brought the priest before their Lord, Sun Ce accused him of spreading evil but the wise man replied “I am but a poor priest of the Langye mountains. More than half a century ago I found near the Yangqu Spring a book called ‘The Way of Peace.’ It contains a hundred and more chapters and taught me how to cure the diseases of humans. With this in my possession I had only one thing to do: To devote myself to spreading its teachings and saving humankind. I have never taken any thing from the people. Can you say I incite people to evil deeds?” but Sun Ce was not convinced, thinking that he was a Yellow Scarf rebel intent on bring chaos and so ordered him to be executed. Many of the assembled officers begged for Yu Ji’s life but Sun Ce was determined to execute the man who he saw a sorcerer and ordered him to be taken to the jails (5).

(2) Cao Ren’s daughter.
(3) Grand Commander was one of the highest ranks of office and holding it would have given Sun Ce power on a level with Cao Cao.
(4) Guo Jia’s reference to Sun Ce dying by the hand of a scoundrel is stating that Sun Ce was sure to die by the hand of someone seeking revenge against him.
(5) Sun Ce’s persecution of Yu Ji is not a historical event but is presumably included to outline the persecution of Daoists in China during the Three Kingdoms era. After the Yellow Scarves rebellion many Daoists were incorrectly accused of being Yellow Scarves and were treated accordingly.

Sun Ce’s imprisonment of Yu Ji was soon a hot topic of conversation and word eventually reached Ce’s mother, Lady Wu, who summoned her son to her. She told her son “Yu Ji has cured many sick people and the common people hold him in great regard. Do not harm him!” but Ce refused to listen, claiming that the man was a wizard who upset the common people with his spells and witchcraft. Sun Ce called for the Taoist to be brought to him for questioning and discovered that the jailers had been treating Yu Ji with respect, removing his bonds and replacing them only when the prisoner had been summoned. Sun Ce punished the jailers and ordered Yu Ji to be bound hand and foot. Many of Sun Ce’s officers pleaded with him not to treat the priest in such a manner but Ce said to them “You are all great scholars, so why do you not understand reason? Many years ago, the Imperial Protector of Jiazhou was deluded by these doctrines, he burned incense and wore a red scarf to assure his victory in battle but he was killed by his enemy all the same. I will kill Yu Ji in order to stop the spread of these perversities!” Lu Fan proposed a solution suggesting that Yu Ji could use his control of the weather to bring about rain to end the drought that plagued the region in order to pay for his crimes. Sun Ce agreed and had the prisoner sent to an altar to pray for rain. Yu Ji lay on the altar in the ferocious heat and said “I will pray for three spans of refreshing rain to fall for the benefit of the people but regardless I will not escape death.” Sun Ce vowed to burn the priest if no rain had fallen by noon and ordered a pyre to be constructed. As noon approached the sky became overcast with clouds but no rain fell, so Sun Ce ordered that Yu Ji be placed on the pyre and burned. The fire caught quickly and as the smoke rose, there was thunder and lightning and then rain started to fall in a deluge, flooding the streets. The rain stopped and the water was indeed three spans deep so the officials released the priest and helped him down from the pyre, bowing in thanks for the much-needed water. Sun Ce flew into a rage at the sight of his officers kneeling in the water, drew his sword and ordered the priest to be executed. The assembled officers begged Ce to not kill Yu Ji but Bofu threatened to execute them too so they became quiet. The executioners beheaded Yu Ji but as his head fell, the gathered men saw a puff of black smoke drift away to the northeast, towards the Langye Mountains. Sun Ce had the priest’s corpse displayed in the marketplace as a warning to wizards and those who practice the supernatural but that night there was a violent storm and in the morning there was no sign of the priest’s body. When the guards reported this to Sun Ce he sentenced them to death but as he did, he saw Yu Ji walking towards him. Sun Ce drew his sword and charged at the priest but fainted.

When he awoke, his mother told him “My son, you have done wrong to slay the holy one, and this is your retribution.” but Sun Ce replied “Mother, when I was a boy, I went with Father to wars, where people are cut down as one cuts reed stalks. There is not much retribution for doing such things. I have put this fellow to death and so checked a great evil. Where does retribution come in?” “This comes of your lack of faith, you must avert this evil by doing good deeds to appease the spirits.” Lady Wu replied, but Sun Ce was unconvinced, “My fate depends on heaven. Wizards can do me no harm, so whom should I appease?” Lady Wu realized that the argument was futile and instead told her son’s attendants to do some good deeds on his behalf. That night however, a cold breeze chilled Sun Ce and he saw Yu Ji standing near his bed. Ce shouted “I am the sworn foe of witchcraft and I will purge the world of all who deal in magic. You are a spirit, how dare you approach me?” and threw his sword at the apparition which promptly disappeared. Sun Ce went to see his mother to try and reassure her but she told him “You have sinned by putting Yu Ji to death and retribution is sure. I have already ordered sacrifices to be performed at the temple but you should go yourself.” Despite his injuries, Sun Ce gathered his strength and followed his mother’s wishes and went to the temple where he was received respectfully by the Daoists. He lit some incense at the priest’s insistence but offered no apology for the killing of Yu Ji. The smoke from the incense collected itself into the form of Yu Ji but Sun Ce hurled abuse at the figure and stormed out of the temple. As he left he saw Yu Ji standing at the temple gates but none of those around him could see the priest. Enraged, Ce hurled his sword at the figure but struck one of his own men instead, the man who had executed Yu Ji. He ordered the fallen man to be buried but then he saw Yu Ji again. Sun Ce spat “This temple is nothing more than a lurking place for wizards.” and sent for 500 soldiers to tear the temple down. As the men tore the building down, Sun Ce saw Yu Ji standing on the roof and angrier than ever, he ordered the temple to be burnt to the ground. However, as the temple burned Sun Ce still saw the figure of the dead priest standing in the midst of the flames. When Ce returned to the palace he saw Yu Ji waiting at the gate, so he refused to enter, instead sending for his army and camping outside the city’s walls. The officers all met to discuss the attack on Cao Cao and all begged Sun Ce to delay the attack until his wounds had healed. That night Sun Ce once again saw the figure of Yu Ji and raged uncontrollably at the spirit, screaming curses at it.

In the morning, Lady Wu called Sun Ce to her and she was shocked by his appearance as he looked utterly emaciated. A mirror was brought to him and he gazed in horror and almost fear at his gaunt appearance, “How did I come to look like this?” he uttered. As he spoke, Sun Ce saw Yu Ji in the mirror and with a scream he struck it causing his half healed wounds to reopen. He fainted and was carried to his chamber but when he regained consciousness, he said, “This is the end, I cannot live.” and summoned his brother Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao. When the two arrived he gave them his last orders, “In this period of upheaval, the domain of Wu, with its strong defense of the three rivers and it’s resourceful lands, has great possibilities. Zhang Zhao, you must assist my brother.” Sun Ce handed his seal to his brother and told him “For manipulating the might of Wu so as to make it the deciding force among the factions and then obtaining the whole empire, you are not my equal. But in employing the wise and the able who will give their all, I am not your equal. Remember the hardships our father and I have suffered in founding this land and be vigilant in guarding it.” Sun Quan wept as he received the seal, and the dying Sun Ce turned to his mother and said “Mother, the days allotted to me by Heaven have run out, and I can no longer serve my devoted mother. I have given the seal to my brother and trust that you will advise him, and see that he never neglects those who served his father and elder brother” but Lady Wu protested, “Your brother is too young for such a task, what if he proves unable to undertake the affairs of state?” but Ce reassured her “He is far abler than I and is fully equal to the task of ruling. If there are doubts then he should consult Zhang Zhao for internal affairs and Zhou Yu for external matters. It is a pity that Zhou Yu is absent so that I cannot give him my orders face to face.” Sun Ce turned to his brothers and told them “You must help your brother. Should any discord arise within the family then let the others punish the wrongdoer and not let his ashes mingle with those of his ancestors in the family vaults.” Lastly, he called for his wife and said “Lady Qiao, you and I must part halfway through life. Honour my mother and when your sister visits, have her tell her husband, Zhou Yu, to give Sun Quan his full support for the sake of our friendship.” Having given his last instructions, Sun Ce closed his eyes and died at age 25.

In Ad 229, Sun Quan declared himself Emperor and posthumously titled Sun Ce King of Changsha.

Copyright © 2004 Morgan Evans
Based on Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms