Soon, war broke out once again between Ts’ao Ts’ao, the mighty Minister of Han, and Lu Bu, warlord of Xuzhou. This time, Liu Pei would fight on Ts’ao Ts’ao’s side. Ts’ao Ts’ao divided his armies into three part. He personally commanded one and ordered two led by Liu Pei and his loyal general Hsiahou Tun to attack Lu Bu in a sandwich or pincer movement. By now, the city of Xia Pi had fallen under Liu Pei’s control.
However, in one battle, Lu Bu defeated Liu Pei. The villagers of Xia Pi loved Liu Pei, so much that they refused to close the city gates on him. Hence, Xia Pi fell back into Lu Bu’s power. Hsiahou Tun, the great general of Wei, pursued Lu Bu, but Lu Bu used his arrow to shoot Hsiahou Tun in the eye. Hsiahou Tun was an incredibly brave. He merely pulled out his own eye and ate it in front of the soldiers. Such was the raw courage of Hsiahou Tun, a cousin of Ts’ao Ts’ao himself!! The battle did not stop. Anyway, Lu Bu prevailed in Xia Pi for a short period of time.
Lu Bu knew that his choices were limited. His only ally was Yuan Shu of Lum Yong, and Yuan Shu had proposed a marriage between his son and Lu Bu’s beautiful daughter. Lu Bu wanted the alliance, but he was hesitant about losing his daughter.
In time, Ts’ao Ts’ao’s numerical superiority took a toll on Lu Bu’s men, and two generals, Chen Gui and his son Chen Deng, also conspired against Lu Bu. They tricked him into leaving the city to them while he marched out against Ts’ao Ts’ao. When Lu Bu returned to Xuzhou, Chen Gui refused to let him in. Instead, he gave the city to Liu Pei, whom he felt was the rightful ruler of Xuzhou all along.
Lu Bu tried to challenge Ts’ao Ts’ao to personal combat, but Ts’ao Ts’ao was too smart for that kind of nonsense. He simply ordered all his men to attack Lu Bu. Unable to win, Lu Bu retreated to a deserted town of Haifa.
Now, he was truly desperate and decided to give his daughter to Yuan Shu in return for reinforcements, but luck was no longer on his son. Lu Bu tied his daughter to his back, hoping to make his way to Lum Yong, but he was blockaded by Chang Fei. Unable to break the blockade, he went back to sulk in Haifa. He had constant arguments with his advisor Chen Kong over how to prosecute the war. Now, you will remember Chen Kong from an earlier episode. He was the mayor who spared Ts’ao Ts’ao many years back but was later disillusioned by Ts’ao Ts’ao’s cruelty. If you forget Chen Kong, please go back and read the Book VI. The Adventures of Ts’ao Ts’ao.
Anyway, a flood kicked in, and there was not enough to eat in Haifa. Some of Lu Bu’s men tried to flee, but they were caught by his general Hou Cheng. When Hou Cheng reported the problem to a depressed Lu Bu, he was merely punished. Hou Cheng was so angered that he decided to betray Lu Bu to Ts’ao Ts’ao.
Firstly, Hou Cheng stole his horse Red Hare and sent it to Ts’ao Ts’ao. Lu Bu had ordered his men not to drink liquor, but one day, he himself broke the rule and drank some wine, because he was so depressed about losing his favorite horse. Now, Lu Bu was a strange man. He could sleep while standing. Anyway, Hou Cheng tied him up and sent him to Ts’ao Ts’ao. Haifa had now surrendered to mighty Wei.
Lu Bu asked to serve Ts’ao Ts’ao if he would only spare his life. He mentioned that he was the greatest warrior in China and told of the time when he held his own against the three sworn brothers, including Kuan Yu and Chang Fei, who were great warriors in their own rights.
Finally, Ts’ao Ts’ao asked Liu Pei for his opinion.
Liu Pei: “Your Excellency must not trust a traitor like Lu Bu. I too was once his friend, but he betrayed me. Lu Bu is the Man with Three Fathers. His own father had died long ago, but both his foster fathers, Ting Yuan and Tung Ch’o, have been murdered by him. He may be a great warrior, but he has no loyalty or honor. One day, he will betray you too.”
Ts’ao Ts’ao: “Ha! The Imperial Uncle is right. What use is a tiger that I can not tame!?! Guards, seize Lu Bu and execute him.”
Thus, it was in this manner that Lu Bu died…the greatest warrior of China but also one of the silliest and most dishonorable men during the Three Kingdoms.
Not long after Lu Bu’s death, Liu Pei was able to set his own domain separate from Ts’ao Ts’ao. After all, he was now Lord of Xuzhou, and the people were loyal to him. Ts’ao Ts’ao ordered two generals against Liu Pei, but Kuan Yu and Chang Fei captured them in succession, whereupon Liu Pei treated them with respect and told him he still respected Ts’ao Ts’ao.
The two generals fell for it and were released, but Ts’ao Ts’ao was so angry that his staff were stupid imbeciles. He felt now, he had to lead the war effort against Liu Pei himself. So it could be said that the death of Lu Bu was the main event that resulted in the break between Ts’ao Ts’ao and Liu Pei, two great men whose ambitions would be central to the Rise of the Three Kingdoms.
We will soon see this epic contest between the two in the next episode…How Kuan Yu Attains Godhood!!!