Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Chapter 1

Three Heroes Swear Brotherhood in the Peach Garden
Heroes Rally Against the Yellow Turban Rebellion 宴桃園豪傑三結義 斬黃巾英雄首立功滾滾長江東逝水,浪花淘盡英雄。

The surging Long River rolls east into the ocean;
the spindrifts washing away all heroes.
All their rights and wrongs, their successes and failures, rendered futile.
And yet the verdant hills still stands as they were
with the infinite rosy sunset.
The white-haired fishermen and lumberjacks on the banks of the river
are used to seeing the autumn moons and the spring breezes.
With a pot of turbid wine do they merrily assemble.
Major and minor events from past to present
are all delivered into their jests.

It is said that the general trend of the world is that long separation must unite and that long unity must separate. During the end of the Zhou dynasty, seven kingdoms fought each other, and all were merged into the Qin dynasty. And after the Qin dynasty fell, the state of Chu and the state of Han fought one another until Han prevailed and absorbed its rival, uniting the country under the Han dynasty. 1 •••

The Han dynasty began when Emperor Gaozu beheaded the White Serpent and rose up for justice, unifying the world. Later, it was revived during the time of Emperor Guangwu, and reigns passed on until that of Emperor Xian. It then divided into three states. •••

It can be deduced that the origin for its descent into disorder began with Emperors Huan and Ling. Emperor Huan banned and imprisoned virtuous people whilst esteeming and trusting eunuchs. And when Emperor Huan died, Emperor Ling took the throne. The General-in-Chief Dou Wu and the Grand Tutor Chen Fan both assisted him. At the time, the eunuchs Cao Jie and his cohorts wielded power. Dou Wu and Chen Fan plotted to execute them, but their plot was not kept secret, and instead, they were the ones killed. Hence the eunuchs became increasingly powerful.

Halfway through the fourth month of the second year of the Jianning era, the Emperor went to the Hall of Warmth and Virtue. He was ascending the imperial throne when from the corner of the hall was suddenly a violent gust of wind. He briefly saw a long large black serpent. It floated down from the roof-beams to coil above the throne. The Emperor was frightened and fell sideways, but his attendants quickly rescued him and entered the palace. The officials all fled and escaped. Soon after, the serpent was no longer seen. Suddenly, a great thunder and rain came forth, with hail adding onto them. They kept on falling until halfway through the night. The amount of ruined rooms could not be counted. 4 •••

During the second month of the fourth year of the Jianning era, Luoyang suffered an earthquake and the rivers flooded. Many living along the coast were swept out into the ocean by tidal waves. During the first year of the Guanghe era, hens turned into roosters. On the day of a new moon during the sixth month, a black vapor over ten zhang long flew its way into the Hall of Warmth and Virtue. It was autumn during the seventh month when there appeared a rainbow in the Jade Chamber. The mountains in Wuyuan plunged into the earth and riverbanks cracked below. These ominous events seemed as though they would continue unabated. 5 •••

Emperor Ling issued an edict asking officials what they believed the origin of these disastrous occurrences to be. A Gentleman Consultant, Cai Yong, petitioned. He believed that the rainbows falling down and the change in the gender of the hens were caused by palace concubines and eunuchs interfering in the court. The words therein were sincere and blunt. 6 •••

The Emperor read this memorial with deep sighs. He rose from his seat to change his robes. Cao Jie was waiting behind, secretly watching, and had the whole text narrated to the imperial attendants. They then used an irrelevant matter to incriminate Cai Yong of a crime and had him return to his hometown. Zhang Rang, Zhao Zhong, Feng Xu, Duan Gui, Cao Jie, Hou Lan, Jian Shuo, Cheng Kuang, Xia Yun, and Guo Sheng were all on good terms and they acted wickedly. They are known as the Ten Regular Attendants. The Emperor honored and trusted Zhang Rang, calling him “Father”. The court worsened each day, causing the hearts of the realm to be set on causing mayhem. Indeed, bandits and robbers rose up like locusts.

At this time in Julu commandery were three brothers: Zhang Jue, Zhang Bao, and Zhang Liang. This Zhang Jue originated from being a disqualified Flourishing Talent. He then entered the mountains to gather medicine when he chanced upon one elderly man, who had jade eyes and youthful facial features. In his hands was a walking stick made from goosefoot. He called Zhang Jue to come into a cavern, then had his heavenly book, which had three volumes, gifted. He said, “It is titled the Essential Art to Great Peace. You, having it, should substitute Heaven in proclaiming reforms that can overall salvage the people of the world. But if you develop selfish intentions, you will certainly bring disaster to yourself.” 7 •••

Zhang Jue bowed and asked his name.

The elderly man said, “I am Immortal Master Zhuang.” These words being said, he quickly transformed into a breeze of purity and left. 8 •••

Zhang Jue, having obtained this book, eagerly studied day and night. Soon, he could summon winds and invoke the rain. He became known as The Mystic of The Way of Peace.

During the first month of the first year of the Zhongping era a terrible pestilence ran throughout the land, whereupon Zhang Jue distributed charmed remedies, the success of which earned him the title Wise and Good Master. He began to accumulate a following of disciples whom he initiated into the mysteries, and, like their master, could write charms and recite spells. They traveled throughout the land, and wherever they went, more were recruited. Zhang Jue began to organize his disciples. He established thirty-six commands, ranging in size from six to ten thousand followers. Each had its chief who took the military rank of general.

They thus claimed: “The azure heaven is dead; the yellow heaven will be established!” And they also claimed: “When the year is jiazi, the world will receive great fortune!” Zhang Jue ordered that every person write the characters of “jiazi” with chalk above the main entry way to their homes. 9 •••

People from Qing province, You province, Xu province, Ji province, Jing province, Yang province, Yan province, and Yu province provinces had their families wait upon the Wise and Good Master as Zhang Jue was called. Zhang Jue sent one of his followers, Ma Yuanyi, to present gold and silk in order to gain the support of the eunuch Feng Xu so that they could rebel within the capital. Zhang Jue talked with his two younger brothers, saying, “What is most difficult to obtain are the hearts of the people. Now that their hearts are with us, if we do not take advantage of our momentum to seize the world, then what a pity that is!” Thus they secretly created yellow banners and decided on a day to rise up together.

They thereupon sent their follower, Tang Zhou to quickly deliver their message to Feng Xu. But Tang Zhou directly went to the palace to inform them of the planned rebellion. The Emperor summoned General-in-Chief He Jin and had him lead troops to investigate. He captured Ma Yuanyi and beheaded him and soon, Feng Xu and a thousand others were arrested and thrown into prison.

When Zhang Jue was informed that his scheme was revealed, he rose up an army on a starry night. He declared himself Lordly General of Heaven, Zhang Bao declared himself Lordly General of Earth, and Zhang Liang declared himself Lordly General of Mankind. They declared to their army, “The Han is currently in decline; it will inevitably fall. We great sages have emerged, and you folks should all obey and heed the will of Heaven in order to enjoy the Great Peace!”

Commoners from all directions wrapped yellow scarves around their head and followed Zhang Jue into rebellion, numbering 400,000 to 500,000 in total. So immense was the strength that these traitors held that when government forces spotted them, they scattered. 10 •••

He Jin petitioned the Emperor to immediately declare an edict, ordering every location to mount defenses and to also suppress the rebels so as to establish their achievements. At the same time, He Jin appointed three Generals of the HouseholdLu Zhi, Huangfu Song, and Zhu Jun—in command of elite divisions. They separated and marched along different routes to suppress the rebels. 11 •••

Let us speak of the army of Zhang Jue. They previously encroached onto the borders of You province. The Shepherd of You province, Liu Yan, was from Jingling in Jiangxia, and a descendant of the Han Prince Gong of Lu. At the time, he heard that the rebellious army was about to arrive, so he summoned his Colonel, Zou Jing, to formulate a plan. Zou Jing said: “The traitors number many and we number few. Your Lordship should quickly recruit an army to respond to this foe.” 12 •••

Liu Yan agreed with these words, soon issuing notices to recruit troops to fight for justice. The text of these notices made their way into Zhuo county. Now let us distinguish one mighty hero from Zhuo. •••

He disliked learning from books. He was lenient and amiable by nature, albeit a man of few words. Happiness or anger did not show in his expression. He always had grand aspirations and especially enjoyed mingling with the heroes of the world. His body was seven chi tall and five cun tall. His ears reached his shoulders and his hands drooped below his knees. He could see his own ears. His face was very handsome like jade and his lips appeared to be painted bright red. He was a descendant of Prince Jing of Zhongshan, who was Liu Sheng, and thus a descendant of Emperor Jing of Han. His surname was Liu, his forename was Bei, and he was styled Xuande. In the past, the son of Liu Sheng, Liu Zhen, was made Marquis of Zhuolu county during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han, but was later convicted of neglecting to pay gold as tax for an imperial ceremony, and deposed. It is because of this that a certain branch moved to Zhuo county. The grandfather of Xuande was Liu Xiong and his father was Liu Hong. Liu Hong once was nominated as Filial and Incorrupt, and was also once an official, but he died young. Xuande thus lost his father at a young age. He served his mother with the utmost filial piety. 13 •••

His family was so poor they had to trade sandals and weave mats for work. The family lived in Lousang Village in their home county, and to the southeast of them was one large mulberry tree over five zhang tall that when seen afar, children felt it looked like a canopied carriage. A physiognomist said: “Out of this family will come a noble personage.” When Xuande was young, he and the children in his village played under the tree. He said: “I am the Son of Heaven, and I will ride this carriage!” His junior uncle, Liu Yuanqi, was astonished at these words and said: “This boy is extraordinary!” And seeing that Xuande and his family were poor, often gave him financial aid.

When he was fifteen, his mother sent him traveling for his education. He once served Zheng Xuan and Lu Zhi, they being his mentors, and he also became friends with Gongsun Zan. 14 •••

When Liu Yan sent out notices to have people join army, Xuande was twenty-eight years old. There came a day he saw the notice and its text. He let out a drawn out sigh filled with emotion which was followed by the harsh tone of a man saying, “Sir, if you are not going to use your strength for the empire, then why the long sigh?” Xuande turned to see this man. He was eight chi tall, had a head like a leopard’s, had eyes large with ridges around them, had a chin like a swallow’s, and had a mustache like a tiger’s. His voice was like a booming thunderstorm and his power was like a horse on the run. Xuande, seeing such features, thought him extraordinary, and asked his name. 15 •••

The other man said, “My surname is Zhang, my forename is Fei, and my style name is Yide. Generations of my family have lived in Zhuo commandery. I have a manor with a field where I sell wine and slaughter pigs. I really enjoy bonding with the heroes of the world. I happened to see you read the notice and then sigh. That was the reason for my question.”

Xuande said, “I am an imperial relative of the Han dynasty. My surname is Liu and my given name is Bei. Now that I learned that the Yellow Turbans are promoting disorder, I have the aspiration to crush these traitors to save the people. I only regret that my strength is paltry, hence my lengthy sigh.” •••

Zhang Fei said, “I have the financial resources which I will use to recruit brave boys from my village. We should work together to start the grand project. Well?” •••

Xuande was delighted, and the two proceeded to the village tavern to talk over the project. As they were drinking, an imposing fellow appeared pushing a handcart along the road, which he parked at the tavern entrance before entering and calling for food and wine. “And be quick,” added he, “for I am eager to reach town and volunteer for the army.”

Xuande looked over the newcomer and noted his huge frame, his long beard, his dark brown face, and his deep red lips. He had eyes like a phoenix and fine bushy eyebrows like silkworms. His whole appearance was dignified and awe-inspiring. Presently Xuande came over, sat down beside him, and asked his name. 16 •••

This man said, “My surname is Guan and my forename is Yu. I was styled Shouchang, but I later changed it to Yunchang. I am a man from Xie, Hedong. I originally was with a powerful personage, but he relied on his influence to bully others. Thus, I killed him. I evaded the consequences to hide away around rivers and lakes. It has been five or six years by now. Now that I have heard that this place is mustering an army to defeat some traitors, I have come here for the special purpose of responding to their recruitment.”

Xuande thus explained his own aspirations to him. Yunchang was very pleased. They together arrived at the manor of Zhang Fei to discuss their grand project as a group.

Zhang Fei said, “Behind my manor is one peach orchard, and now it’s in full bloom. Tomorrow, we should offer sacrifices and explain our vision to Heaven and Earth within that peach orchard. We three men will swear to be brothers, sharing our strength and sharing our minds. Afterwards, we can plan on our grand goal.”

Xuande and Yunchang both responded, “This is most gratifying.” The next day, within the peach garden, they prepared a black ox, white horse, and other sacrificial things. The trio then burnt them all, bowed, and recited this oath. It ran, “We three Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei, though of different surname, do hereby swear to be brothers. We shall share the same aspirations and contribute our strength together. We shall rescue those in need and support those in danger. We shall repay the empire and we shall ensure the safety of the common folk. We did not ask to be born on the same day within the same month and the same year, but we shall seek to die on the same day within the same month and the same year. The all-mighty Heaven and Earth, do verify our motives! If we were to betray justice and ignore kindness, may the gods smite us all!”

The oath complete, they paid respects to Xuande as the oldest, Guan Yu as the second, and Zhang Fei as the youngest. Upon finishing their sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, they slew oxen and set up wine in preparation of a feast to which they invited brave men from their village. Over three hundred joined them, and they all feasted and drank deep in the Peach Garden.

On the next day weapons were mustered, but to the brothers’ frustration, they were left wanting for horses. While pondering this problem, someone reported, “Two horse dealers, servants and horses in tow, are presently approaching the village.”

“This is Heaven blessing us!” exclaimed Xuande, and the three brothers set out to welcome their guests. The two visitors, it turned out, were prominent traders from Zhongshan. One was named Zhang Shiping and the other Su Shuang. Each year, they traveled north to buy and sell horses, but because of the rebels, their plans had been complicated and they were returning home. Xuande invited the traders to the manor where wine was set out for them, and he revealed his intention to hunt down the rebels and restore security to the populace. The two were so delighted that they gifted fifty fine steeds, along with five hundred taels of gold and silver and one thousand catties of steel to finance the forging of weapons.

After the merchants had taken their leave, armorers were summoned to forge weapons. For Xuande they made marching double-edged swords. For Yunchang they fashioned a long-handled, crescent blade called Black Dragon or “Cold Beauty,” which weighed a full hundredweight, and for Zhang Fei an eighteen-span spear of tempered steel. He also ordered for each of them helmets and full armor. 17 •••

The three brothers gathered a force of five hundred from their hometown and went to meet Zou Jing, who led them to meet the Shepherd of You province, Liu Yan. Once they finished paying respects, the three shared shared their backgrounds. Xuande mentioned his name and ancestry. Liu Yan was delighted and recognized Xuande as his nephew.

Within many days, people reported that a general of the Yellow Turban rebels, Cheng Yuanzhi was leading a force numbering 50,000 towards Zhuo commandery. Liu Yan ordered Zou Jing to lead Xuande and the two others to advance with their force of 500 against their foe. Xuande and his company eagerly lead their army to advance, and when they were directly at the foot of Daxing Mountain, they saw the rebels. These rebels all had flowing hair and the yellow scarves were tight around their foreheads. 18 •••

At once the two armies faced one another. Xuande rode out with Yunchang to his left and Yide to his right. Flourishing their riding whips, they insulted the rebels, “Perverse traitors who rebel against their empire, why did you not surrender earlier?” Cheng Yuanzhi, infuriated, sent forth his subordinate, Deng Mao. Zhang Fei at once rode forward, Serpent Spear poised to strike, and with one thrust pierced Deng Mao through the heart. Seeing Deng Mao tumble from his horse, dead, Cheng Yuanzhi cut toward Zhang Fei, bearing his sword and whipping his horse. But Yunchang brandished his large sword and galloped forth to meet him. Cheng Yuanzhi, seeing this, stammered in fear. Unable to ready a defense in time, he was cleaved in two by Yunchang’s blade. Later generations commended them with a poem. It ran: 19 •••

Two heroes did emerge in that morning,
one trying his spear; one trying his blade.
Showing their might and strength,
the three kingdoms record their renown.

Having witnessed the beheading of Cheng Yuanzhi, the rebels abandoned their weapons and fled. Xuande led his force to catch them. The amount of those that surrendered could not be counted. With this great victory, he returned. •••

Liu Yan personally welcomed them back, rewarding the soldiers for their labor. But the next day, he received a message from the Grand Administrator of Qing province, Gong Jing. It stated that the Yellow Turbans had besieged his city and that it was about to fall so he begged for reinforcements. Liu Yan and Xuande discussed this plea for help. 20 •••

Xuande said: “I wish to go reinforce him.” Liu Yan commanded Zou Jing to lead 5,000 troops in unison with Xuande and his brothers towards Qing province. The rebel force, seeing these reinforcements come, divided their forces so as to engage in a messy fight. Xuande, his forces too few, could not succeed and retreated thirty li to set up camp.

Xuande told Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, “The rebels are many whilst we are few. We must march out with an ambush so that we may be victorious.” •••

So Lord Guan and Zhang Fei each led a thousand soldiers and hid to the left and right of the hills respectively. When the gongs sounded, they were to both come out in support.

The next day, Xuande and Zou Jing led their army to the drum beats and shouts to advance. The rebel army came forward in opposition and soon after, Xuande led his army to retreat. The rebel army sought to exploit this and gave chase. When they were going through the hill ridge, Xuande and his army all sounded the gongs, and soon, both the armies to the left and right came out in unison. Xuande signaled for his troops to turn back and resume killing. Thus, he attacked from three sides. The rebel army was crushed and fled to the walls of the provincial city, but Grand Administrator of Qing province; Gong Jing also led out a militia out of the city to assist in the battle. The rebel momentum was devastated and a great many were killed. Thus was lifted the siege on Qing province. Later generations praised Xuande in a poem: 21 •••

The divine merits in devising a decisive strategy!
Two tigers return to defer to one dragon.
He comes forth, soon gaining renown;
The tripod of state will be with this fatherless man!

When Gong Jing finished awarding his army with food and drink, Zou Jing wished to return. But Xuande said, “I recently heard the General of the Household Lu Zhi and the chief traitor Zhang Jue are fighting at Guangzong. In the past, Lu Zhi was my mentor. Now I intend to go and assist him.” Hence, Zou Jing led his army to return to You province whilst Xuande, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei led their original contingent of five hundred men towards Guangzong.

Arriving at the camp of Lu Zhi, they entered the tent and were received respectfully. Once they explained the reasons for their arrival, Lu Zhi was very pleased. They remained in the camp while he made his plans.

At the time, the rebel force of Zhang Jue numbered 150,000 whilst the force of Lu Zhi numbered 50,000. Their forces faced off at Guangzong with no decisive outcome. Lu Zhi told Xuande, “I am besieging these rebels here, but the two treacherous younger brothers Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao are at Yingchuan entrenched against Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun. I will give you a thousand imperial soldiers and you will lead your contingent to Yingchuan to investigate the situation on the ground. Then, we can mark a date to destroy them.” 22 •••

Xuande obeyed this order and led his army overnight into Yingchuan. At that time, the armies under Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun opposed the rebels. The rebels were fighting at a disadvantage, so they retreated into Changshe and set up a camp among the thick grass. Huangfu Song proposed to Zhu Jun, “The rebels have made camp among the thick grass. Let us attack them with fire.” This order was given to their officers, and each person was to bind one bundle of thick grass and be situated in hidden areas for an ambush. That night, a large breeze suddenly came forth. After the second watch, they unleashed a fire all at once. Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun each led their troops to attack the rebel camp. The flames rose to the very Heavens. The rebel army was frightened; their horses could not don saddles and their men could not don armor. Thus they scattered in four directions.

The battle continued until dawn. Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao, with a few flying soldiers, found, as they thought, a way of escape. But suddenly a troop of soldiers with crimson banners appeared to oppose them. Their leader was a man of medium stature with small eyes and a long beard.

Conferred the rank of Cavalry Commander, this man was from Qiao commandery, Pei state. His name was Cao Cao, styled Mengde. The father of Cao Cao, Cao Song, was originally from the Xiahou clan, but being the adopted son of Regular Palace Attendant; Cao Teng, claimed the Cao surname. Cao Song beget Cao Cao. His childhood name was Aman and he had another name, Jili. 23 •••

The young Cao Cao enjoyed roving and hunting, and he delighted in songs and dancing. He was resourceful and full of cunning ideas. Now Cao Cao had a junior uncle, who being witness to his unrestrained behavior, once grew so furious at him that he reported him to Cao Song. Cao Song thus rebuked Cao Cao.

Cao Cao suddenly devised a plan. He saw his uncle coming and feigned collapsing to the floor in the manner of a stroke. His uncle was alarmed and told Cao Song. Cao Song quickly came to check, but Cao Cao was in good health.

Cao Song said: “Your uncle told me you had a stroke, and yet you are cured now?” •••

Cao Cao said: “I never had such an ailment, but I lost the love of my uncle, who lied to you.” •••

Cao Song believed his words and thereafter when the uncle would talk about the faults Cao Cao committed, Cao Song dismissed them all. It is thanks to this that Cao Cao became reckless and dissolute. 24 •••

A contemporary named Qiao Xuan said to Cao Cao, “The realm under heaven will be thrust into chaos. Without an able man famous throughout the world, there cannot be any aid. But the one who can stabilize them is you, sir!” •••

When He Yong of Nanyang met Cao Cao, he said, “The Han dynasty will perish. The one to stabilize the world must be that man.” •••

Xu Shao of Runan had a reputation for discerning the character of people. Cao Cao went to meet him. 25 •••

He asked, “What type of man am I?”

Xu Shao did not reply. Upon the same question repeated, Xu Shao said, “Sir, in times of stability, you are a capable minister; in times of turmoil, you are a sinister hero.” 26 •••

Cao Cao, hearing this, was delighted. •••

When he was twenty, he was nominated as Filial and Incorrupt and became a Gentleman. He was soon promoted to North Commandant of Luoyang. When he first arrived to his office, he set up over ten decorated cudgels and hand them placed at the four gates of the county. All who committed a crime, including the powerful and the rich, were punished.

The uncle of Regular Palace Attendant Jian Shuo walked the streets at night with a sword. Cao Cao, on his nightly patrol, detained him and beat him with a cudgel. Thereafter, none dared to commit crimes, and Cao Cao’s prestige grew considerably. He later became Magistrate of Dunqiu. •••

At the outbreak of Yellow Turban Rebellion, he was made Cavalry Commander, and so he was given command of five thousand cavalry and foot soldiers to help fight at Yingchuan. He just happened to fall upon the freshly defeated rebels of Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao, and he massacred them. More than ten thousand were slain, and he captured a great amount of banners, gongs, drums, and horses. However the two leaders got away. After an interview with Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun, Cao Cao went in pursuit.

Let us go back to talk about Xuande, who was leading his brothers into Yingchuan. They heard the din of shouts and death and saw large flames rising into the very Heavens. They quickly led their armies there, but the rebels were already defeated and scattered. Xuande then saw Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun, and to them he explained the wishes of Lu Zhi. •••

Huangfu Song said, “Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao have been utterly crushed and will certainly enter Guangzong to assist Zhang Jue. Xuande, immediately hasten back overnight to reinforce Lu Zhi.”

Xuande obeyed and led his army to return. Halfway there, they saw a party of soldiers escorting a cage-cart. The prisoner was Lu Zhi. Xuande was so alarmed that he rolled out of his saddle. He asked the reasons for the imprisonment. Lu Zhi explained: “In my siege of Zhang Jue, I was about to destroy him. However, Zhang Jue, using some supernatural skills, prevented my success. The imperial government sent an Attendants of the Gates, Zuo Feng, to examine the situation carefully, but he demanded that I give him a bribe. I responded: ‘I am short on army supplies. How can I have any money to give to you, sir?’ Zuo Feng was resentful and upon his return petitioned that I merely built tall ramparts, did not fight, and that my soldiers became lazy. The court was furious at me because of this, so they sent a General of the Household, Dong Zhuo, to take over my command. I am to return to the capital to be interrogated.” •••

Zhang Fei, hearing this, was angry. He wanted to slay the escorting soldiers in order to free Lu Zhi. •••

Xuande quickly stopped him, saying: “The court will have its own discussion about it. How can you be imprudent?” The soldiers around Lu Zhi departed. •••

Lord Guan said: “Lu Zhi has been arrested and another now lead his troops. We have no place to rely upon, and so it is better to return back to Zhuo commandery for the time being.” Xuande heeded these words and led his army north. Within two days, they suddenly heard the thunder of battle behind some hills. Xuande led his brothers to the peak on horseback to observe it and saw the Han army crushed. Behind the army, the hills and countryside were swarmed, for the Yellow Turbans were overwhelming the landscape. On their banners were the large words of “Lordly General of Heaven”.

Xuande said: “That is Zhang Jue! We must make haste to attack him!” The three men urged their horses whilst leading their men, entering the field. •••

Zhang Jue was about to kill Dong Zhuo, taking advantage of the situation to rush towards him. Suddenly, the three men dashed into his army, causing it great disarray. He and his men fled over fifty li. The three men thus saved Dong Zhuo and returned him back to his camp.

Dong Zhuo asked the trio what offices they were presently serving in. •••

Xuande said: “We have none.” And Dong Zhuo belittled them, treating them with contempt. Xuande left, but Zhang Fei was incensed. •••

He said: “We have personally involved ourselves in a bloody battle and saved this menial man, yet he scorns us with such disrespect! If I do not kill him, it will be quite difficult to alleviate my fury!” •••

He then intended to take his blade, enter the tent, and slay Dong Zhuo.
And so it was:

Human emotions have been one of elitism from antiquity to present.
Who would know that a hero would be but a commoner?
How can one so hasty as Yide
punish all the deceiving people in the world? •••

For how the fate of Dong Zhuo will end up, read the next chapter to find out. •••