Biography (SGYY): Wang Shuang (Ziquan)

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Wang Shuang (Ziquan)
陸遜 (伯言)
(AD ?–229)

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Sam Wrest

Wang Shuang (Ziquan)

Wang Shuang, styled Ziquan, hailed from Didao in Longxi. He was a man with a swarthy face and yellowish eyes, a bearlike waist and tigerlike back. Shuang wielded a sword of sixty jin and always concealed three hammers on himself before entering battle, which came to be known as “meteor hammers”.

In AD 228, Zhuge Liang of Shu began a campaign against Wei, marching his army out of Hanzhong to the small city of Chencang. Upon learning of Liang’s advance, Wei’s ruler, Cao Rui, immediately called a court conference to discuss repelling the invasion. It was during this conference that Regent Marshal Cao Zhen addressed the sovereign: “I have lately acquired the services of an important commander who wields a sword of sixty jin and rides a champion war-horse. He can pull an iron bow more than two hundred pounds strong, and with three concealed “meteor hammers” he can hit his target every time. Ten thousand fighters could not equal him in courage. This man comes from Didao in Longxi. His name is Wang Shuang. I recommend him for the vanguard.”

Cao Rui was delighted and summoned Wang Shuang into his presence. As Shuang arrived, Rui began observing him and after some time remarked, “So great a commander eases my cares.”

Cao Rui presented Wang Shuang with a silk surcoat, golden armour, and the titles Tiger-Fearsome General and vanguard of the first unit. Wang Shuang then set out in the vanguard contingent of Cao Zhen‘s army, who had been appointed as chief commander of the expedition to repel Zhuge Liang’s invasion.

As Wang Shuang neared Chencang, a force of six thousand soldiers led by Riverlands commanders Xie Xiong and Gong Qi marched forth to meet him. Xie Xiong charged forward first, but Wang Shuang met him in the field and sliced him through in a brief clash. The Riverlands forces began to retreat, Shuang in close pursuit. Gong Qi then joined the battle, but again Wang Shuang met and killed him after a mere two or three bouts. The Riverlands forces fled in defeat while Wang Shuang took up position to await whatever opposition Zhuge Liang had left for him.

Some time after Wang Shuang’s victory over the Riverlands army, a fresh contingent of soldiers led by enemy generals Wang Ping, Liao Hua and Zhang Ni arrived to offer battle. Zhang Ni rode out of the enemy lines first and Wang Shuang eagerly went forward to meet him. After many bouts, Shuang surmised that he would not defeat Ni as easily as he had the previous Riverlands generals, and so he feigned defeat and fled; Zhang Ni gave chase. As Ni continued riding hard after Shuang, the enemy general Wang Ping called out, “Stop the chase!”

As Zhang Ni turned in response to his comrade’s warning, Wang Shuang threw one of his meteor hammers at lightning speed and hit Ni square in the back. Shuang then urged his forces on and charged the enemy line, killing many and utterly defeating Zhuge Liang’s forces.

Following the two victories Wang Shuang had achieved over the invading Shu army, no further attacks were made to take Chencang. When spies reported to Wang Shuang that Riverlands general Wei Yan had abandoned camp and begun fleeing back towards Hanzhong, Shuang began pursuing the fleeing army immediately. After twenty li, Wang Shuang came before banners flying the colours of Shu—Wei Yan was in their lead. “Halt, Wei Yan!” Shuang shouted, but the Riverlands army didn’t even stop to look back. Wang Shuang galloped hard after them, but behind him his troops began shouting, “Flames outside the wall and inside camp! Look out for the enemy’s trap!”

Startled, Wang Shuang quickly turned and began riding back to Chencang, only to meet a wall of living flame stretching continuously higher. He ordered a swift retreat. As he reached a hillslope, a group of riders erupted from a wood. “Here is Wei Yan!” their leader cried. Wang Shuang began to panic, but before he could compose and defend himself, Wei Yan rode forth and cut him down. News of Wang Shuang’s death so pained Cao Zhen that he took sick and went back to Luoyang. A poet of later times had left these lines illustrating Wang Shuang’s fate as a result of Zhuge Liang schemes:

He excelled Sun and Pang with subtle schemes;
In his zone of sky, a fixed star gleams
His moves, which baffled all surmise,
On Chencang rode Shuang’s doom devised.

Copyright © 2005 Sam Wrest
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong