Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book XIX : Kung Ming Borrows Ts'ao Ts'ao's Arrow

<p>Though Liu Pei and Kung Ming were safe in the meantime and Hankow, they realized that Ts’ao Ts’ao’s power was now invincible for he hath penetrated the south for the first time. Chingchou had capitulated to Wei, and Ts’ao Ts’ao murdered Lady Chua and her son, assuming direct control of the city himself. Chua Mao, seeing the Wei might, submitted to him despite the blood fued. In return, Ts’ao Ts’ao appointed Chua Mao admiral of the Wei fleet and made ready to crush Sun Quan of Wu as well as Liu Pei in Hankow. Kung Ming realized their only chance of survival was to gain an alliance with Sun Quan, even though Wei and Wu was not officially at war yet. This episode tells of the brilliance of Kung Ming and how Liu Pei narrowly escaped total annihilation at the hands of Ts’ao Ts’ao.</p>

<p>One of Sun Quan’s advisors, Lu Ssu, heard of the brilliance of Kung Ming the “Sleeping Dragon” who had defeated Ts’ao Ts’ao’s mighty host and asked the Marquis of Wu to consider an alliance with Liu Pei, who at that time had less than 5,000 troops in Hankow. Only Wu could have any chance of countering Wei, but to fight alone was difficult. So they invited Kung Ming to Naking, the capital of Wu, where Kung Ming tried to convince Wu to form an alliance with Liu Pei.</p>

<p>At the same time, Ts’ao Ts’ao offered terms of surrender to Wu. If Sun Quan would send his eldest son to Wei as a captive, Ts’ao Ts’ao would spare Sun Quan, so Sun Quan asked Kung Ming why he should not accept Ts’ao Ts’ao’s terms.</p>

<p>“You should”, Kung Ming replied. “Not everyone is like the Imperial Uncle Liu Pei.”</p>

<p>Sun Quan: “Are you saying I’m inferior to Liu Pei?”</p>

<p>Kung Ming: “No my Lordship, but even without hope of winning, the Imperial Uncle will fight Ts’ao Ts’ao. This is why I serve him.”</p>

<p>Sun Quan was truly angry at the hurt to his pride, so he sent Kung Ming to the palace of Chou Yu. Chou Yu was sworn brother to the Wu founder Sun Ts’e. He was also grand general of Wu and was married to Xiao Qiao, the most beautiful woman in the south. He was a brilliant man and hoped to test his wits against Kung Ming as well.</p>

<p>Chou Yu tried to say that in reality Wu and Wei were not at war and that the problem was really Liu Pei. Kung Ming agreed and even added, “In truth, it is very easy for Wu to stop war with Wei, all we have to do is send two women to him.”</p>

<p>Chou Yu: “Really? Who are these true women? They must be exquisite beauties if they can stop war between Wu and Wei!”</p>

<p>Kung Ming: “Indeed, they are. Ts’ao Ts’ao’s son Ts’ao Xi once wrote a poem for his father, how he would rejoice when he hath the two Qiao sisters by his side for eternal pleasure. It was such a touching poem.”</p>

<p>Kung Ming went on to recite the poem, much to Chou Yu’s consternation.</p>

<p>Chou Yu: “Do you have any idea who these women are?”</p>

<p>Kung Ming: “Oh, what does it matter? Two women, exquisite beauties though they may be are worth little compared to the peace of Wei and Wu. Let’s just send them over, man!”</p>

<p>Chou Yu: “How dare you!! The elder Qiao is widow of Sun Ts’e, the founder of Wu, and the younger Qiao is my own wife!!”</p>

<p>Kung Ming then pretended to be frightened and pleaded “General Chou, I meant you no offence. Forgive my ignorance!! I…I had no idea… they were such important ladies!!”</p>

<p>Chou Yu’s anger transformed into hatred for Ts’ao Ts’ao and fierce determination, “Rise, Master Kung Ming, please assist me against the tyrant Ts’ao Ts’ao.”</p>

<p>…and so playing on the emotions of Chou Yu, Kung Ming successfully transformed the cause of Liu Pei into those of Wu, as though…by magic!</p>

<p>After listening to Chou Yu’s counsel, Sun Quan made up his mind to ally with Liu Pei against Wei. He realized the head of the civilian faction, Chang Ching, was in favor of peace by surrendering to Ts’ao Ts’ao, so Sun Quan showed his determination by cutting the edge of the table and saying “He who talks of peace with Ts’ao Ts’ao will have a fate like this table!!”</p>

<p>…and so Wu formed an alliance with Liu Pei, the minor warlord of Hankow, against the invincible Wei.</p>

<p>Meanwhile, in the Wei camp, a noble called Jiang Gan offered to recruit Chou Yu, who was his childhood friend, to the Wei side. Ts’ao Ts’ao decided to give him a shot. Jiang Gan talked merrily to Chou Yu when he arrived, but Chou Yu already knew his plans but feigned ignorance. Chou Yu ordered his men, “Jiang Gan is my best friend. Anyone who talks of the conflict between Wei and Wu today will be beheaded.” …The order certainly didn’t give Jiang Gan any peace of mind himself.</p>

<p>Then, Chou Yu showed Jiang Gan the strength of the Wu navy and the bountiful food supplies, much to Jiang Gan’s dismay. After showing him the glorious military drill of the Wu navy, he pretended to get drunk and invited Jiang Gan to sleep with him. At night, Chou Yu pretended to murmur in his sleep, “Jiang Gan, I will bring you the head of Ts’ao Ts’ao.”</p>

<p>Jiang Gan rose from his bed and found a letter by Chou Yu to Chua Mao, “Admiral Chua Mao, I have made preparations. You have promised the head of Ts’ao Ts’ao to me, and I would appreciate if you expedited it.” In reality, the letter was forged by Chou Yu himself, but Jiang Gan thought it was real and so he bought it to Ts’ao Ts’ao, escaping before Chou Yu could wake up.</p>

<p>Returning to the Wei camp unsuccessfully, Jiang Gan still looked proud as he foolishly handed Chou Yu’s letter to Ts’ao Ts’ao. Ts’ao Ts’ao was a suspicious man, so he ordered Chua Mao and his right hand man Chang Yun up to see him.</p>

<p>Ts’ao Ts’ao: “You folks are the finest naval commanders of the South, and it is said even Chou Yu himself fears you at sea. Why is the navy still not ready for the attack of Wu by now?!? It’s been six months for Heaven’s sakes!!”</p>

<p>Chua Mao: “Your Excellency, the soldiers of Wei are not accustomed to naval warfare as those of Wu and Chingchou, so the training must take longer. Give us a few more months. That Chou Yu has not made any sorties on our great fleet shows that we are making progress and that he is frightened of us.”</p>

<p>Ts’ao Ts’ao threw the letter down to Chua Mao in disgust and yelled, “Or perhaps, it is because you have not sent Chou Yu my head yet.” He then ordered his men, “Seize these two traitors!! Dogs of Chingchou!! I knew I could not trust you.”</p>

<p>Thereupon, the Wei executioner beheaded Chua Mao and Chang Yun, the two most talented naval officers Ts’ao Ts’ao had at his disposal. Many of Ts’ao Ts’ao’s advisors asked what he hath done. Ts’ao Ts’ao now realized that Jiang Gan was a fool, and that wise Chou Yu hath deceived him, but he could not accept his fault. After all, Chua Mao and Chang Yun would not simply come back to life if he did, so he said, “They did not obey Wei protocols.” After that, he dismissed his advisors, foolish Jiang Gan, and the other nobles angrily.</p>

<p>Such was the cunning of Chou Yu. There was a poem that says Chou Yu was wiser than Kung Ming. I do not believe this to be the case, but a worthy opponent, he certainly was.</p>

<p>One day, Kung Ming revealed to Lu Ssu that he could see through Chou Yu’s brilliant plan to kill the great admiral Chua Mao using the foolish Jiang Gan. Chou Yu now pondered over the wisdom of Kung Ming. He was not a jealous man, but he certainly wanted Wu to be triumphant not simply over Wei but over Liu Pei as well. How could that be when Liu Pei had Kung Ming by his side? Chou Yu then ordered Chuko Chin, a prominent Wu noble who was also Kung Ming’s elder brother to convince him to serve Wu. However, Kung Ming was much too witty for his brother and managed to refuse him in the most convincing way, even asking Chuko Chin to come in serve Liu Pei instead!!</p>

<p>When he was unable to convince Kung Ming to join Wu, Chou Yu instead conspired to find an excuse to kill Kung Ming. In one meeting, he invited Lu Ssu and Kung Ming to the meeting. Chou Yu stressed the importance of having enough arrows to fight with Ts’ao Ts’ao. Then, he asked if Kung Ming could supervise building 50,000 arrows in one week, but the daredevil Kung Ming instead said, “50,000 in one week is not enough. I’ll give you 100,000 in three days!!”</p>

<p>Chou Yu was shocked and replied, “Master Kung Ming, these matter of wars are serious matters of state. I wish you didn’t speak of it so lightly.”</p>

<p>Kung Ming: “Ah, don’t worry. I’ll find you the arrows, man!”</p>

<p>Chou Yu: “And if you should fail?”</p>

<p>Kung Ming: “If I can not find you 100,000 arrows in 3 days, you shall have my head.”</p>

<p>Chou Yu: “Deal! Tell me if you need anything to facilitate this task.”</p>

<p>Once out of the meeting room, Kung Ming called unto Lu Ssu, “Why did you tell Chou Yu that? Now, I’m in trouble. He wants me dead.”</p>

<p>Lu Ssu: “You really shouldn’t have said you’d do it in 3 days. He gave you one week!!”</p>

<p>Kung Ming: “Don’t worry. I can get away with this, but you’ll have to help me.”</p>

<p>Lu Ssu: “Oh drats!! OK, whatever. Next time, don’t play games with General Chou Yu like this again?”</p>

<p>So Kung Ming asked Lu Ssu for ships, hay, and men. On the third day, he invited Lu Ssu to see his work. It was a ship decked with scarecrows and very few men. That day, the fog spread thickly over the river as Kung Ming had expected, and they sailed straight into the Wei navy.</p>

<p>Ts’ao Ts’ao saw only the thick flood and thought the ship carried Chou Yu’s large navy of men. Not having clear vision, he was afraid that fire would damage his own fleet and ordered his men to shoot but not use fire. The Wei navy shot so much arrows that the Wu fleet was heavy with arrows, whereupon Kung Ming ordered his men to say “Thank you, Minister of Wei, for the arrows!!”</p>

<p>Ts’ao Ts’ao was so enraged, but the fog was thick and it was too late to follow Kung Ming lest the Wei navy be caught unprepared in Wu waters. After that, Kung Ming sent over 100,000 arrows to Chou Yu, who was much impressed but even more suspicious of Kung Ming.</p>

<p>Nevertheless, the two great allies would still unite against Ts’ao Ts’ao of Wei in the epic warfare of the Three Kingdoms. See the climax of this saga in our next episode. Book XX The Battle of Red Wall</p>

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