Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book XI : The Uneasy Friendship of Liu Pei and Lu Bu

After the death of Tao Qian, all the nobles of Xuzhou asked Liu Pei to govern the city. The mighty warrior Lu Bu, now landless, asked for refuge with him, and Liu Pei greeted him with open arms. Chang Fei hated Lu Bu, especially when Liu Pei reminded that it was Lu Bu’s invasion of Xuchang that saved them all. Because of the conflict between the two, Liu Pei asked Lu Bu to move to Xia Pi, which was a city on the periphery of Xuzhou.

Ts’ao Ts’ao now has his eyes on two enemies, namely Liu Pei and Yuan Shu (the powerful warlord of Lumyong). What better way to play them off one another? Now that he was in control of the Emperor, he made the Emperor issue a decree telling Liu Pei to attack Yuan Shu. Although Liu Pei could see through the ruse and realized that his army was inadequate to attack Yuan Shu, he was too loyal to the Emperor to refuse, so Liu Pei and Kuan Yu led the army out to attack Yuan Shu. He did have reservations about leaving Chang Fei in charge of the city, because of his concerns that Chang Fei would drink and get into trouble but he decided to give his brother a chance anyway.

While Liu Pei was away, Chang Fei got drunk and was about to punish a Ts’ao Pa, one of the nobles in Xuzhou, for not drinking with him. Ts’ao Pa decided to argue back, saying:

“Did Lord Liu Pei not advice you against drinking?”, but Chang Fei was angry and unreasonable. He was going to punish Ts’ao Pa anyway, so Ts’ao Pa said, “If you don’t consider me worthy, then you should excuse me for the sake of my son-in-law?”

“Who is your son-in-law?”, Chang Fei demanded.

“My son-in-law is the great warrior Lu Bu”, Ts’ao Pa replied.

Now, Chang Fei was even more angry. “If you had not mentioned Lu Bu, you may have gotten off the hook. Now, I will make you feel my wrath!”

He then ordered Ts’ao Pa whipped a hundred times. Ts’ao Pa was vengeful, and so he conspired with Lu Bu to take over the city. One day, while Chang Fei was drunk, he opened the city gates, and Lu Bu seized control of Xuzhou. Chang Fei managed to kill the traitor Ts’ao Pa on the way out, but now, he, not Lu Bu!, was the landless warlord, so he marched out to meet Liu Pei.

Chang Fei admitted his guilt and asked Liu Pei to behead him, but Liu Pei pardoned him. Such was the brotherhood of the Peach Orchard!! Now, Liu Pei was landless, and his army was weak. Yuan Shu staged a counterattack, but was wary that Lu Bu may come to his rescue, so he bribed Lu Bu with many sacks of rice and many talents of gold. Having accepted the bribe, Lu Bu was unable to help Liu Pei directly, but he wanted to help anyway, because Liu Pei hath been so generous to him in the past.

So one day, Lu Bu invited Yuan Shu’s general to a meeting and drank wine. Then, he made a challenge. If he shoot blindfolded and hit the stick 100 yards away from him, Yuan Shu’s general would have to withdraw his army and make peace with Liu Pei. Naturally, the general was hesitant, but he did not want to offend Lu Bu. After all, he thought, Lu Bu is blindfolded and drunk, how could he possibly hit the target? So the general agreed, but he was in for a big surprise!!

Lu Bu pretended to be tipsy, but he hit the stick right on the mark. The embarrassed general was forced to withdraw his massive army rather than meet Lu Bu in combat, so peace was established for a short time. To return his generosity, Lu Bu let Liu Pei stay in Xia Pi, while he himself ruled Xuzhou.

However, not very long after that, Chang Fei plundered Lu Bu’s horses. When Lu Bu found out and confronted him, Chang Fei said, “In the beginning, the city and all of its money belonged to my brother. Why should we have to ask your permission to take that which is rightfully ours?!?”

Lu Bu was so angry at this ingratitude that he attacked and defeated Chang Fei. Lu Bu’s army stormed Xia Pi and forced Liu Pei out. Now, the landless warlord Liu Pei and his brothers sought refuge with their former nemesis Ts’ao Ts’ao in the capital city of Xuchang.

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