Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book VIII : Sun Jian and the Battle of Chingchou

After Sun Jian returned to his base at Changsha in southern China, he decided to take revenge on the one-time treacherous leader of the Revolution, Yuan Shao. In this he allied with Yuan Shu, a powerful cousin of Yuan Shao who felt that he had been cheated away from his fair share of the spoils. According to the plan, Sun Jian would invade Chingchou, which was controlled by Liu Biao, an ally of Yuan Shao. In the meantime, Yuan Shu would wage war against Yuan Shao himself.

So Sun Jian marched upon Chingchou, which was one of the strongest cities in China. Although it was surrounded by enemies on many sides, Chingchou was wealthy and full of food supply. Starving the city into surrender would be impossible. Sun Jian staged several mock attacks against Chingchou and retreated. Sometimes, he would lead his men out and then do nothing.

Eventually, Liu Biao let his guard down, and Sun Jian’s troop staged the real attack and captured the outskirts of Chingchou. His eldest son Sun Ts’e was with him. The boy was only sixteen years old, but he was a valiant warrior already! One of Liu Biao’s generals charged at Sun Jian but was easily slain by Sun Ts’e’s arrows. Sun Jian was able to besiege Liu Biao, but he was later slain by boulders of a messenger seeking help from Yuan Shao.

The line of Sun did not end their story there. After this event, Sun Ts’e remained with Yuan Shu until his adulthood, but he would not accept Yuan Shu as his master. Instead, he hoped to become a warlord himself. So he traded his father’s imperial seal for 3,000 soldiers from Yuan Shu and set out to unify southeastern China. He found many useful friends such as the general Chou Yu, the linguist Chuko Ching (elder brother of the famous Chuko Liang “Kung Ming”), and the benevolent Lu Su.

In the battle against Liu Ye, one of Liu Ye’s generals, Taishi Chi, wrestled with him before his army came. Sun Ts’e was spying on the enemy camp alone. Taishi Chi managed to escape. However, Sun Ts’e eventually defeated Liu Ye with his bravery and captured Taishi Chi, who submitted after much coaxing. Taishi Chi said he would look for men to support Sun Ts’e’s ambitions. When Taishi Chi took a long time to return, Sun Ts’e’s men said, “My Lord, you have let the tiger back into the forest.”

But Sun Ts’e was a confident man, so he replied “You are wrong to mistrust Taishi Chi. He is a true man of his words. It’s not noon yet. If I do not trust someone, I will not use him. If I use him, then I must trust him as well.”

Just as he spoke these words, Taishi Chi returned with 3,000 men. Such was the greatness of Sun Ts’e. In another battle, he killed the envoy of the governor of Nanking, who was also the governor’s brother. Instead of being enraged, the governor fled and was killed by Sun Ts’e’s boulder. Sun Ts’e was such a great warrior that in one battle he slew his enemy by shouting. His roar was so loud that the horse threw the general off, breaking his neck.

And so this was how the Little Marquis Sun Ts’e founded the Kingdom of Wu, one of the Three Kingdoms. Sun Ts’e was a man of principle. He often punished those who claimed magic and wizardry. Once, he killed a sage after putting him on a burning tower and the rain fell. He said the rain fell when it did, not because the sage could command it. But then, he became crazy from exhaustion after the sage’s death. He was finally murdered by three assassins who served a noble who killed for treason.

Sun Ts’e was on a hunting trip, and he defeated the assassins. However, he was struck by a poison arrow. After his death, his younger brother Sun Quan would succeed him as Marquis of Wu. At his deathbed, he told Sun Quan “For military matters, trust in Chou Yu. For civilian matters, listen to Zhang Ren. You need not worry about the affairs of the State now. Make Wu a great nation.”

And thus is the legend of the great Sun family. The valiant Sun Jian and his great son Sun Ts’e who laid the foundations of Wu.

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