Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Chapter 11

Liu, the Emperor’s Uncle, Rescues Kong Rong Lü Bu Defeats Cao Cao Near Puyang 劉皇叔北海救孔融 呂溫侯濮陽破曹操

It was one Mi Zhu who said he knew how to defeat Cao Cao utterly. He came off a wealthy family of merchants trading in Luoyang. One day traveling homeward from that city in a carriage he met an exquisitely beautiful lady trudging along the road, who asked him to let her ride. He stopped and yielded his place to her. She invited him to share the seat with her. He mounted, but sat rigidly upright never even glancing in her direction. They traveled thus for some miles when she thanked him and alighted. Just as she left she said, “I am the embodied spirit of the Southern Heat. I am on my way to execute a decree of the Supreme to burn your dwelling, but your extreme courtesy has so deeply touched me that I now warn you. Hasten homeward and remove your valuables, for I must arrive tonight.”

Thereupon she disappeared. Mi Zhu hastily finished his journey and as soon as he arrived moved everything out of his house. Sure enough that night a fire started in the kitchen and involved the whole house. After this he devoted his wealth to relieving the poor and comforting the afflicted. Tao Qian gave him the office he then held.

The plan he proposed was this. “I will go to Bohai and beg Kong Rong to help; another should go to Qing province on a similar mission, and if the armies of these two places march on our enemy he will certainly retire.”

The Grand Administrator accepted the plan and wrote letters. He asked for a volunteer to go to Qing province and a certain Chen Deng offered himself and, after he had left, Mi Zhu was formally entrusted with the mission to the north. Meanwhile they would hold the city as they could.

This Kong Rong was a native of Qufu in the old state of Lu, one of the twentieth generation in descent from the great Teacher Confucius. He had been noted as a very intelligent lad, somewhat precocious.

When ten years old he had gone to see Li Ying, the Governor, but the doorkeeper demurred to letting him in. Kong Rong then explained, “I am Minister Li Ying’s intimate friend,” and was admitted.

Li Ying asked Kong Rong what relations had existed between their families that might justify the term intimate.

The boy replied, “Of old my ancestor Confucius questioned your ancestor, the Taoist sage Laozi, concerning ceremonies. So our families have known each other for many generations.”

His host was astonished at the boy’s ready wit.

Presently another visitor of high rank came in, to whom Li Ying told the story of his youthful guest. “He is a wonder, this boy,” said Li Ying.

The visitor replied, “It does not follow that a clever boy grows up into a clever man.”

The lad took him up at once saying “By what you say, Sir, you were certainly one of the clever boys.”

They all laughed. “The boy is going to be a noble vessel,” said they.

Thus from boyhood he was famous. As a man he rose to be a General of the Household, and was sent as Governor to Bohai, where he was renowned for hospitality. He used to quote the lines:

“Let the rooms be full of friends,
And the cups be full of wine.”

“That is what I like,” said he.

After six years at Bohai the people were devoted to him. The day that Mi Zhu arrived he was, as usual, seated among his guests and the messenger was ushered in without delay. In reply to a question about the reason of the visit he presented his letter which said that Cao Cao was pressing on the city and the Grand Administrator prayed for help.

Then said Kong Rong, “Your master and I are good friends and your presence here constrains me to go to his aid. However I have no quarrel with Cao Mengde either, so I will first write to him to try to make peace. If he refuses my offer, then I must set the army in motion.”

Cao Cao will not listen to proposals of peace; he is too certain of his strength,” said the messenger.

Kong Rong wrote his letter and also gave orders to muster his men. Just at this moment happened another rising of the Yellow Turbans, and the ruffians began to rob and murder at Bohai. It was necessary to deal with them first and Kong Rong led his army outside the city.

The rebel leader rode out to the front saying, “I know this district is fruitful and can well spare ten thousand ’stone’ of grain. Give me that and we retire: refuse, and we will batter down the city walls and destroy every soul.”

The Grand Administrator shouted back, “I am a servant of the great Hans, entrusted with the safety of their land. Think you I will feed rebels?”

The leader Guan Hai whipped his steed, whirled his sword around his head and rode forward. Zong Bao, one of Kong Rong’s captains, set his spear and rode out to give him battle, but after a very few bouts was cut down. Soon the soldiers fell into confusion and rushed pell-mell into the city for protection. The rebels then laid siege to the city on all sides. Kong Rong was very down-hearted and Mi Zhu, who now saw no hope for the success of his mission, was grieved beyond words.

The sight from the city wall was exceeding sad, for the rebels were there in enormous numbers. One day as the Grand Administrator stood on the wall, he saw a man armed with a spear riding hard in among his enemies and scattering them before him like chaff before the wind. Before long he had reached the foot of the wall and called out, “Open the gate!” But the defenders would not open to an unknown man and in the delay a crowd of rebels gathered round the rider along the edge of the moat. Suddenly wheeling about, the warrior dashed in among them and bowled over half a score at which the others fell back. At this the Grand Administrator ordered the wardens to open the gates and let the stranger enter. As soon as he was inside he dismounted, laid aside his spear, ascended the wall and made humble obeisance to Kong Rong.

He said his name was Taishi Ci and he came from Laihuang. His aged mother had sent him out of gratitude for the kindness shown her by Kong Rong. “I only returned home yesterday from the north and then I heard that your city was in danger from a rebel attack. My mother said you had been very kind to her and told me I should try to help. So I set out all alone and here I am.”

This was cheering. The Grand Administrator already knew Taishi Ci by reputation as a valiant fighting man although they two had never met. The son being far away from his home the Grand Administrator had taken his mother, who dwelt a few miles from the city, under his especial protection and saw that she did not suffer from want. This had won the old lady’s heart and she had sent her son to show her gratitude.

Kong Rong showed his appreciation by treating his guest with the greatest respect, making him presents of clothing and armor, saddles and horses.

Presently said Taishi Ci, “Give me a company and I will go out and drive off these fellows.”

“You are a bold warrior, but these are very numerous. It is a serious matter to go out among them,” said Kong Rong.

“My mother sent me because of your goodness to her. How shall I be able to look her in the face if I do not raise the siege? I would prefer to conquer or perish.”

“I have heard Liu Xuande is one of the finest warriors in the world and if we could get his help there would be no doubt of the result. But there is no one to send.”

“I will go as soon as I have received your letter.”

So Kong Rong wrote letters and gave them to his new helper. Taishi Ci put on his armor, mounted his steed, attached his bow and quiver to his girdle, took his spear in his hand, tied his packed haversack firmly to his saddle bow and rode out at the city gate. He went quite alone.

Along the moat a large party of the besiegers were gathered and they came to intercept the solitary rider. But he dashed in among them and cut down several and so finally fought his way through.

The rebel leader, hearing that a rider had left the city, guessed what his errand would be and followed Taishi Ci with a party of horsemen. He spread them out so that the messenger rider was entirely surrounded. Then Taishi Ci laid aside his spear, took his bow, adjusted his arrows one by one and shot all round him. And as a rider fell from his steed with every twang of his bowstring, the pursuers dared not close in.

Thus he got clear away and rode in hot haste to Liu Xuande. He reached Pingyuan and after greeting his host in proper form he told how Kong Rong was surrounded and had sent him for help. Then he presented the letter which Liu Bei read.

“Who are you?” asked he.

“I am Taishi Ci, a stupid fellow from Donghai. I am not related by ties of kin to Kong Rong, nor even by ties of neighborhood, but I am by the bonds of sentiment and I share his sorrows and misfortunes. The rebel Guan Hai has invested his city and he is distressed with none to turn to and destruction is very near. You are known as humane and righteous and you are able to rescue him. Therefore at his command I have braved all dangers and fought my way through his enemies to pray you to save him.”

Liu Xuande smiled, saying, “And does he know of my existence?”

So the three brothers told off three companies and set out to help raise the siege. When the rebel leader saw these new forces arriving he led out his army to fight them, thinking he could easily dispose of so small a force.

The brothers and Taishi Ci with them sat on their horses in the forefront of their array. Guan Hai, the rebel leader, hastened forward. Taishi Ci held back to allow Guan Yu to open the combat. He rode forth and the two steeds met. The soldiers set up a great shout, for how could there be any doubt of the result? After a few bouts Black Dragon rose and fell, and with the stroke fell the rebel leader.

This was the signal for the two other warriors to take a share and they advanced side by side. With their spear ready they dashed in and Xuande urged forward his men. The besieged Grand Administrator saw his doughty rescuers laying low the rebels as tigers among a flock of sheep. None could withstand them and he then sent out his own men to join in the battle so that the rebels were between two armies. The rebels’ force was completely broken and many men surrendered, while the remainder scattered in all directions.

The victors were welcomed into the city and as soon as possible a banquet was prepared in their honor. Mi Zhu was presented to Liu Xuande and he related the story of the murder of Cao Song by Zhang Kai and Cao Cao’s vengeful attack on Xu province and his coming to beg for assistance.

Xuande, said, “Tao Gongzu is a kindly man of high character, and it is a pity that he should suffer this wrong for no fault of his own.”

“You are a scion of the imperial family,” said the Grand Administrator, “and this Cao Cao is injuring the people, a strong man abusing his strength. Why not go with me to rescue the sufferers?”

“I dare not refuse, but my force is weak and I must act cautiously,” said Liu Bei.

“Though my desire to help arises from an old friendship, yet it is a righteous act as well. Is it that your heart is not inclined toward the right?” said Kong Rong.

Liu Bei said, “This being so, you go first and give me time to see Gongsun Zan from whom I may borrow more men and horses. I will come anon.”

“You surely will not break your promise?” said the Grand Administrator.

“What manner of man think you that I am?” said Xuande. “The wise one said, ‘Death is common to all: the man without truth cannot maintain himself.’ Whether I get the men or not, certainly I shall myself come.”

So the plan was agreed to. Mi Zhu set out to return forthwith while Kong Rong prepared for his expedition.

Taishi Ci took his leave saying, “My mother bade me come to your aid and now happily you are safe. Letters have come from my fellow townsman, Liu Yao, Shepherd of Yang province, calling me thither and I must go. I will see you again.”

Kong Rong pressed rewards upon him but he would accept nothing and went away. When his mother saw him she was pleased at his success saying she rejoiced that he had been to prove his gratitude, and after this he departed for Yang province.

Here nothing will be said of the departure of the relieving force. But Xuande went away to his friend Gongsun Zan and laid before him his design to help Xu province.

Cao Cao and you are not enemies; why do you spend yourself for the sake of another?” said Gongsun Zan.

“I have promised,” he replied, “and dare not break faith.”

“I will lend you two companies, horse and foot,” said Gongsun Zan.

“Also I wish to have the services of Zhao Zilong,” said Xuande.

Gongsun Zan agreed to this also.

They marched away, their own men being in the front and Zhao Zilong, with the borrowed men, being in rear.

In due course Mi Zhu returned saying that Kong Rong had also obtained the services of the three warrior brothers. The other messenger, Chen Yuanlong, came back and reported that Tian Kai would also bring help. Then was the Grand Administrator’s heart set at ease.

But both the leaders, though they had promised aid, greatly dreaded their antagonist and camped among the hills at a great distance, fearful of coming to close quarters. Cao Cao knew of their coming and divided his army into parts to meet them, so postponing the attack on the city itself. Presently Liu Bei came up and went to see Kong Rong, who said, “The enemy is very powerful and Cao Cao handles his army skillfully. We must be cautious. Let us make most careful observations before we strike a blow.”

“What I fear is famine in the city,” said Liu Bei. “They cannot hold out very long. I will put my men with yours under your command while I with Zhang Fei make a dash through to see Tao Qian and consult with him.”

Kong Rong approved of this, so he and Tian Kai took up positions on the “ox horn formation,” with Guan Yu and Zhao Yun on either side to support them.

The day that Liu Bei and his company made their dash to get through Cao Cao’s army they got as far as the flank of his camp when there arose a great beating of drums, and horse and foot rolled out like billows on the ocean. The leader was Yu Jin. He checked his steed and called out, “You mad men from somewhere, where are you going?”

Zhang Fei heard him but deigned no reply. He only rode straight to attack the speaker. After they had fought a few bouts Xuande waved his double sword as signal for his men to come on and they drove Yu Jin before them. Zhang Fei led the pursuit and in this way they reached the city wall.

From the city wall the besieged saw a huge banner embroidered in white with the name of Liu Bei and the Grand Administrator bade them open the gate for the rescuers to enter. The leader was made very welcome, conducted to the residency and a banquet prepared in his honor. The men also were feasted.

Tao Qian was delighted with Liu Bei, admiring his noble appearance and clear speech. He bade Mi Zhu offer him the seal and insignia of office. But the visitor shrank back startled.

“What does this mean?” said he.

Tao Qian said, “There is trouble on every side and the kingly rule is no longer maintained. You, Sir, are a member of the family and eminently fitted to support them and their prerogatives. I am verging on senility and I wish to retire in your favor. I pray you not to decline and I will report my action to the Court.”

Liu Bei started up from his seat and bowed before his host saying, “Scion of the family I may be, but my merit is small and my virtue meager. I doubt my fitness even for my present post and only a feeling of doing right sent me to your assistance. To hear such speech makes me doubt. Surely you think I came with greed in my heart. May God help me no more if I cherished such a thought.”

“It is a poor old man’s real sentiment,” said Tao Qian.

Time after time Tao Qian renewed his offer to retire, but how could Liu Bei accept it?

In the midst of this came Mi Zhu to say the enemies had reached the wall and something must be done to drive them off. The matter of one officer retiring in favor of the other could await a more tranquil time.

Said Liu Bei, “I ought to write to Cao Cao to press him to raise the siege. If he refuse, we will attack forthwith.”

Orders were sent to the three camps to remain quiescent until the letters could reach Cao Cao.

It happened that Cao Cao was holding a council when a messenger with a war letter was announced. The letter was brought in and handed to him and, when he had opened and looked at it, he found it was from Liu Bei.

This is the letter, very nearly: “Since meeting you outside the pass, fate has assigned us to different quarters of the world and I have not been able to pay my respects to you. Touching the death of your noble father, the Marquis, it was owing to the vicious nature of Zhang Kai and due to no fault of Tao Gongzu. Now while the remnant of the Yellow Turbans is disturbing the provinces and Dong Zhuo’s partizans have the upper hand in the capital, I would that you, illustrious Sir, would regard the critical position of the Court rather than your personal grievances and so divert your forces from the attack on Xu province to the rescue of the State. Such would be for the happiness of that city and the whole world.”

Cao Cao gave vent to a torrent of abuse. “Who is this Liu Bei that he dares write and exhort me? Beside, he means to be satirical.”

He issued orders to put the bearer of the letter to death and to press on the siege. But Guo Jia remonstrated, “Liu Bei has come from afar to help Tao Qian and he is trying the effect of politeness before resorting to arms. I pray you, my master, reply with fair words that his heart may be lulled with a feeling of safety. Then attack with vigor and the city will fall.”

Cao Cao found this advice good, so he spared the messenger telling him to wait to carry back his reply. While this was going on a horseman came with news of misfortune. Lü Bu had made a raid on Yan province.

When Li Jue and Guo Si, the two partizans of Dong Zhuo, succeeded in their attack on the capital Lü Bu had fled to Yuan Shu, who however looked askance at him for his instability, and refused to receive him. Then he had tried Yuan Shao, who had made use of him in an attack upon Zhang Yan in Changshan. But his success filled him with pride and his arrogant demeanor so annoyed the other commandants that Yuan Shao was on the point of putting him to death. To escape this he had gone away to Zhang Yang, who accepted his services.

About this time Pang Shu, who had been protecting Lü Bu’s family since his disappearance, restored them to him, which deed angered Li Jue and Guo Si so that they put Pang Shu to death and wrote to Lü Bu’s protector to serve him the same. To escape this Lü Bu once again had to flee and this time joined himself to Zhang Miao.

He arrived just as Zhang Miao’s brother was introducing Chen Gong. Gong said to Zhang Miao, “The disrupture of the Empire has begun and warriors are seizing what they can. It is strange that you, with all the advantages you enjoy, do not strike for independence. Cao Cao has gone on an expedition against the east leaving his own district defenseless. Lü Bu is one of the fighting men of the day. If you and he together attacked and got Yan province you could then proceed to the dominion.”

Zhang Miao was pleased and resolved to try. Soon Lü Bu was in possession of Yan province and its neighborhood, all but three small departments, which were desperately defended. Cao Ren had fought many battles but was always defeated and the messenger with the evil tidings had come from him asking help.

Cao Cao was greatly disturbed by this and said, “If my own city be lost I have no home to return to. I must do something at once.”

“The best thing would be to become friends with Liu Bei at any cost and return to Yan province,” said Guo Jia.

Then he wrote to Liu Bei, gave the letter to the waiting messenger and broke camp. The news that the enemy had left was very gratifying to the Grand Administrator, who then invited his various defenders into the city and prepared banquets and feasts in token of his gratitude.

At one of these, when the feasting was over, he proceeded with his scheme of retirement in favor of Liu Bei. Placing him in the seat of highest honor he bowed before him and then addressed the assembly.

“I am old and feeble and my two sons lack the ability to hold so important an office as this. The noble Liu Bei is a descendant of the imperial house. He is of lofty virtue and great talent. Let him then take over the rule of this district and only too willingly I shall retire to have leisure to nurse my health.”

Liu Bei replied, “I came at the request of Kong Wenju because it was the right thing to do. Xu province is saved, but if I take it surely the world will say I am a wicked man.”

Mi Zhu said, “You may not refuse. The House of Han is failing, their realm is crumbling and now is the time for doughty deeds and signal services. This is a fertile district, well populated, and you are the man to rule over it.”

“But I dare not accept.”

“The Grand Administrator is a great sufferer,” said Chen Deng, “and cannot see to matters. You may not decline, Sir.”

Said Xuande, “Yuan Shu belongs to a family of rulers and the highest offices of state were held four times in three generations. The whole empire respects him, why not invite him to this task?”

“Because he is a rotting bone in a dark tomb; not worth talking about. This opportunity is a gift from Heaven and you will never cease to regret its loss,” said Kong Rong.

So spake Kong Rong, but still Liu Bei obstinately refused. Tao Qian besought him with tears. “I shall die if you leave me and there will be none to close my eyes.”

“Brother, you should accept the offer thus made,” said Guan Yu.

“Why so much fuss?” said Zhang Fei. “We have not taken the place; it is he who wishes to give it you.”

“You all persuade me to do what is wrong,” said Liu Bei.

Thrice did Tao Qian entreat Liu Bei and thrice was he refused. Then he said, “As he is set in his determination perhaps he will consent to encamp at Xiapi. It is only a little town, but thence he can keep watch and ward over this city.”

They all with one voice prayed Liu Bei to consent so he gave in. The feast of victory being now ended the time came to say farewell. When Zhao Yun took his leave Liu Bei held his hands alternately while dashing away the falling tears. Kong Rong and his leader went home to their own place.

When Liu Bei and his brothers took up their abode in Xiapi, they first repaired the defenses and then they put out proclamations in order to calm the inhabitants.

In the meantime Cao Cao had marched toward his own district. His cousin, Cao Ren, met him and told him Lü Bu was very strong and he had Chen Gong as adviser. Yan province was as good as lost, with the exception of three small districts which had been desperately defended.

Cao Cao said, “I own that Lü Bu is a bold fighter but nothing more; he has no craft. So we need not fear him seriously.”

Then he gave orders to make a strong camp until they could think out some victorious plan. Lü Bu, knowing of Cao Cao’s return, called two of his subordinate captains, Xue Lan and Li Feng, to him and assigned to them the task of holding Yan province, saying “I have long waited for opportunity to employ your skill: now I give you a legion and you are to hold the city while I go forth to attack Cao Cao.”

They made no objection. But Chen Gong, the strategist, came in hastily saying, “You are going away; whither?”

“I am going to camp my men at Puyang, that vantage point.”

“You are making a mistake,” said Chen Gong. “The two you have chosen to defend this are unequal to the task. For this expedition remember that about one hundred and eighty li due south, on the road to Taishan, is a very advantageous position where you should place your best men in ambush. Cao Cao will hasten homeward by double marches when he hears what has happened and if you strike when half his men have gone past this point you may seize him.”

Said Lü Bu, “I am going to occupy Puyang and see what develops. How can you guess?”

So he left the two captains in command at Yan province and went away.

Now when Cao Cao approached the dangerous part of the road near Taishan, Guo Jia warned him to take care as there was doubtless an ambush. But his master laughed, “We know all his dispositions. Do you think he has laid an ambush? I shall tell Cao Ren to besiege Yan province and I shall go to Puyang.”

When Chen Gong heard of the enemy’s approach he spoke, saying “The enemy will be fatigued with long marches so attack quickly before they have time to recover.”

Lü Bu replied, “I, a single horseman, am afraid of none. I go and come as I will. Think you I fear this Cao Cao? Let him settle his camp; I will take him after that.”

Now Cao Cao neared Puyang and he made a camp. And soon after he led out his commanders and they arrayed their men in open and desert country. Cao Cao took up his station on horseback between the two standards, watching while his opponents arrived and formed up in a circular area. Lü Bu was in front, followed by eight of his captains, all strong men. Two were called Zhang Liao and Zang Ba; and there were six others. They had five legions.

The drums began their thunderous roll and Cao Cao, pointing to his opponent, said, “You and I had no quarrel, why then did you invade my land?”

“The Empire of Han is the possession of all; what is your special claim?” said .

So saying he ordered Zang Ba to ride forth and challenge. From Cao Cao’s side the challenge was accepted by Yu Jin. The two steeds approached each other, two spears were lifted both together and they exchanged near two score blows with no advantage to either. Then Xiahou Dun rode out to help his colleague and, in reply, out went Zhang Liao from Lü Bu’s side. And they four fought.

Then fierce anger seized upon Lü Bu. Setting his spear he urged his steed forward to where the fight was waging. Seeing him approach Xiahou Dun and Yu Jin both fled, but Lü Bu pressed on after them and Cao Cao’s army lost the day. Retiring a long way they made a new camp. Lü Bu called in and mustered his men.

The day having gone against him Cao Cao called a council and Yu Jin said, “From the hill tops today I saw a camp of our enemies on the west of Puyang. They were but few men therein, and tonight after today’s victory, it will not be defended. Let us attack and if we can take the camp we shall strike fear into the heart of Lü Bu. This is our best plan.”

Cao Cao thought so too. He and six of his lieutenants and two legions left that night by a secret road for the camp.

In Lü Bu’s camp was rejoicing for that day’s victory when Chen Gong reminded him of the west camp and its importance, and said that it might be attacked, Lü Bu replied that the enemy would not dare approach after that day’s defeat.

Cao Cao is a very able commander,” replied Chen Gong. “You must keep a good lookout for him lest he attack our weak spot.”

So arrangements were made for defense. At dusk Cao Cao reached the camp and began an immediate attack on all four sides. The defenders could not hold him off. They ran in all directions and the camp was captured. Near the fourth watch, when the party told off to help defend the camp reached it, Cao Cao sallied forth to meet them and met Gao Shun. Another battle then began and waged until dawn. About that time a rolling of drums was heard in the west and they told Cao Cao that Lü Bu himself was at hand. Thereupon Cao Cao abandoned the attack and fled.

They pursued him, Lü Bu taking the lead. Two of Cao Cao’s lieutenants attacked the pursuers but could not check them. Cao Cao went away north. But from behind some hills came out more of Lü Bu’s army and as they could not be beaten off Cao Cao sought safety in the west. Here again his retreat was barred.

The fight became desperate. Cao Cao dashed at the enemy’s array. The din was terrible. Arrows fell like pelting rain upon them and they could make no headway. He was desperate and cried out in fear, “Who can save me?”

Then from the crush dashed out Dian Wei with his double lance, crying “Fear not, my master.” He leaped from his steed, leaned his double lance against a wall and laid hold of a handful of darts. Turning to his followers he said, “When the ruffians are at ten paces, call out to me.”

Then he set off with mighty strides, plunging forward careless of the flying arrows. Lü Bu’s horsemen followed and when they got near the followers shouted, “Ten paces!”

“Five, then call!” shouted back Dian Wei, and went on.

Presently, “Five paces!”

Then Dian Wei spun round and flung the darts. With every fling a man fell from the saddle and never a dart missed.

Having thus slain half a score the remainder fled and Dian Wei quickly remounted his steed, set his twin lance and rushed again into the fight with a vigor that none could withstand. One by one his opponents yielded and he was able to lead Cao Cao safely out of the press of battle. Cao Cao and his captains went to their camp.

But as evening fell the noise of pursuit fell on their ears and soon appeared Lü Bu himself. “Cao Cao, you rebel, do not flee!” shouted he as he approached with his halberd ready for a thrust.

All stopped and looked in each others’ faces: the men were weary, their steeds spent. Fear smote them and they looked around for some place of refuge.

You may lead your lord safely out of the press,
But what if the enemy follow?

We cannot say here what Cao Cao’s fate was, but the next chapter will relate.