Sanguo Yanyi Officer Biography
Authored by Morgan Evans
Lady Zhurong, the wife of the ‘Nan Man’ (1) King Meng Huo, was a descendant of the Goddess of Fire Zhurong (2). She was an expert with throwing knives and never missed her target.
(1) The term ‘Nan Man’ means Southern Barbarian and was used as a derogatory term towards all non-Han tribes located in the south of China.
(2) The Goddess of Fire herself appeared to Mi Zhu. Mi Zhu was changed by the experience and spent the rest of his days using his wealth to help the poor and needy.
When her husband rebelled against Shu, Lady Zhurong supported him from the sidelines until the Shu commander, Zhuge Liang, had defeated him on five occasions. When news came that their ally, King Duosi had been defeated and killed, Meng Huo was deeply distressed, but Lady Zhurong laughed at him saying, “Though you are brave, how silly you are! Though I am but a woman, I will go out and fight.” Meng Huo bowed to her and then she mounted her horse and led out an army of fifty thousand troops with one hundred generals.
As they cleared Silver Pit Palace, the army met with a Shu troop led by Zhang Ni. The sight of Lady Zhurong, armed with five throwing knives and holding an eighteen foot signal staff chilled the Shu general. Zhurong went out and gave battle but after a few bouts, turned and bolted away. Zhang Ni gave chase but she threw one of the flying swords, hitting him in the arm and knocking him from his saddle. The tribal soldiers gave a loud cheer and promptly bound the Shu general. Another Shu general, Ma Zheng, charged at Lady Zhurong but her soldiers pulled him down with hooks and captured him too. Zhurong returned to her husband with her two prisoners and a large banquet was thrown in celebration. During the banquet, she ordered the prisoners to be executed but her husband opposed her saying, “Five times has Zhuge Liang set me at liberty. It would be unjust to put these to death. Confine them until we have taken their chief, then we may execute them.” Lady Zhurong was merry from drinking wine and did not object.
The next day, soldiers came and reported that Zhao Yun was offering a challenge. Lady Zhurong went out and gave battle but quickly her opponent fled. Suspecting a trap, she did not pursue. Soon Wei Yan came to challenge and Zhurong engaged him too, but he also fled soon after combat had begun. Again, she did not give chase, instead choosing to retire. The day after, Zhao Yun again challenged and once again fled quickly. When Zhurong once again failed to give chase, Wei Yan rode forth and hurled a volley of abuse at her. Enraged, she rode after Wei Yan and as he sped up, so she urged her horse on. Soon she chased Wei Yan into a narrow valley road but suddenly ropes tripped her horse, throwing her from the saddle. Lady Zhurong was quickly bound and taken to the Shu camp despite the efforts of her soldiers. She was brought before Zhuge Liang who ordered her bonds to be removed and gave her wine. Zhuge Liang then wrote to Meng Huo offering her in exchange for the two captive Shu generals. The King agreed and released Ma Zheng and Zhang Ni. Once they had arrived at the Shu camp, Zhuge Liang escorted Zhurong to her home, where her husband met her with a mixture of happiness and anger.
King Mulu, who ruled the Ba Na Ravine, arrived to help Meng Huo and Lady Zhurong repel the Shu invasion but the Shu forces quickly thwarted him. In light of this, Meng Huo devised a plan to assassinate Zhuge Liang. Word was sent to Shu that Chief Dailai had tried in vain to convince the King to surrender and so had made Meng Huo and Lady Zhurong prisoners. Soon they arrived at the Shu camp but as they arrived, men came out of hiding and seized them. Zhuge Liang addressed Meng Huo, “Did you not say that if your family were taken prisoners you would yield? What now?” but Meng Huo replied, “We have come of our own will and at the risk of our lives. The credit is not yours. Still I refuse to yield,” and agreed that he would yield if captured a seventh time. The ‘Nan Man’ party were all released.
For his final assault, Meng Huo summoned the King Wutu Gu and his rattan armoured warriors. The rattan armour was virtually impenetrable and so the soldiers of Shu were forced to flee during their initial clashes. Soon a messenger reached Meng Huo reporting Wutu Gu’s success and requesting aid to finish off Zhuge Liang. Meng Huo and Lady Zhurong marched out their army but when they reached their destination they found the burned corpses of Wutu Gu’s army and realised that they had been tricked. Soon the soldiers of Shu fell upon them and both Lady Zhurong and her husband were captured. The prisoners were taken to a tent in the Shu camp where they were given refreshments. A messenger soon came to tell them they were free to go but Meng Huo, bound by honour and shame, refused to leave. Soon the King, Lady Zhurong and the other prisoners crawled on their hands and knees to the tent of Zhuge Liang to formally submit. A banquet was given and Zhuge Liang returned all captured places and officially recognised Meng Huo’s Kingship (3).
(3) By officially recognising Meng Huo as the ruler of the land, it meant that Shu did not have to leave a military presence in the land. A Shu military presence would have been difficult to maintain and would have likely resulted in another rebellion.
Soon the Shu army withdrew, leaving Meng Huo and Lady Zhurong to once again rule over the land.
Copyright © 2004 Morgan Evans
Based on Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms