So Liu Pei decided to visit “Kung Ming” Chuko Liang at his hut in the mountains and convince him to be his advisor. At first, Chang Fei wanted to capture this Kung Ming, but Liu Pei criticized him for being so rude.
Kung Ming’s uncle was once appointed governor of Xin Ye by the Emperor Liang when he was still young, but Liu Biao was powerful and hath slain him in battle. Orphaned, Kung Ming studied strategy at Sun Hzi’s academy and graduated first in a class with other notables such as Pang Tong “The Fledgling Pheonix” and Xu Shu himself. Only Pang Tong is considered his equal. Xu Shu once tried to convince Kung Ming to go and serve Liu Pei, but Kung Ming refused to do so and remained in his hut. His wisdom was so great that they called him “The Sleeping Dragon”.
The first time, Liu Pei visited the hut, they met with a couple of scholars writing poetry. They thought one of the scholars was Kung Ming, but this was not the case. He went home disappointed.
That next time, winter came. It snowed hard, but Liu Pei insisted on going. Liu Pei felt that if he went in winter, Kung Ming would be even far more impressed with his determination. When Kuan Yu and Chang Fei complained, he said he would go alone. Reluctantly, his brothers went along. Again, Kung Ming was not there.
Finally, another summer came, and they visited Kung Ming. This time, he was sleeping in his hut. Chang Fei got so angry he wanted to go burn the hut down, but Kuan Yu stopped him, “Surely, elder brother Liu Pei will be very angry should you do that.”
Liu Pei patiently waited until Kung Ming woke. Kung Ming asked his servant why he did not wake him up, but the boy said that Liu Pei told him to let Kung Ming sleep. Kung Ming was deeply touched by Liu Pei’s sincerity and personality and so he agreed to serve Liu Pei.
Kung Ming then laid out the plans for Three Kingdoms, “China now needs to be divided into three parts. Ts’ao Ts’ao is all-powerful in the north (Wei). Sun Quan of Wu is powerful in the southeast. He will not be easy to dislodge. You must ally with him against Ts’ao Ts’ao and carve a domain for yourself in Szechuan (southwest) and await the time to unify China.”
So Kung Ming returned to Chingchou with the three brothers, and his first advice was given to Liu Hsun, the eldest son of Liu Biao. Actually, he did not want to help Liu Hsun. His job was to serve the Imperial Uncle Liu Pei and not help others, but Liu Pei wanted him to help. So one day, Liu Hsun told Kung Ming that he wanted to show off some books on the high shelf. When they reached there, the ladder was taken away. He would not let Kung Ming down until he advised him.
At that time, Liu Hsun was afraid of getting killed by his stepmother Lady Chua. Kung Ming advised him to flee to Hankow and await the right time to come back, which is exactly what he did.
“During the time of Spring and Autumns, a stepmother wanted to kill the two elder sons of the Marquis of Ch’i. She put honey on her dress and went to the garden with the eldest son, whereupon bees came around her, and the Marquis’s eldest son chased the bees away. The Marquis thought his son was flirting with his beautiful young wife, so he beheaded him. The second son, however, fled and waited for the Marquis to die. A palace coup occurred. The stepmother was killed in it, and the second son of the Marquis returned to seize power. He became Ch’I Heng Gong, the first powerful hegemon of Ch’i who would later lead Chinese nobles against the Hsiung-nu invasion from Mongolia.”
Thus, Liu Hsun was saved from the treachery of Lady Chua and her brother, the powerful admiral Chua Mao.
Ts’ao Ts’ao then ordered his general Hsiahou Tun to invade Xin Ye and crush Liu Pei. Liu Pei gave Kung Ming his sword of command, and Kung Ming laid out all his plans. Kuan Yu despised Kung Ming for he could not even carry a sword. Also, Kung Ming delegated every order to the generals, even Liu Pei himself, but with no role for Kung Ming.
Kuan Yu: “Ha! So you can win battles with just theories and orders!! This is so great.”
Kung Ming: “I am he who holds the Sword of Command. General Kuan Yu, if you disobey me, you will be beheaded.”
So the generals had no choice but to follow Kung Ming’s orders. This was how the battle of Xin Ye unfolded.
Firstly, Chao Yun met with Hsiahou Tun in battle and pretended to flee from the One-eyed General. Then, Chang Fei closed in behind him at sealed the ridge which Hsiahou Tun might use as an escape path and burned the place down.
Hsiahou Tun’s vast army was now trapped in fire. It was then that he met Kuan Yu in battle. Although Hsiahou Tun was a great warrior, he was defeated and slain by Kuan Yu. Thus was the Battle of Xin Ye!!
Ts’ao Ts’ao’s mighty army led by valiant Hsiahou Tun hath fallen. From that day onwards, Ts’ao Ts’ao never thought of young Kung Ming as a “little boy” no more. In fact, he heard from Xu Shu that Kung Ming was a far greater strategist than Xu Shu himself.
Also, after this battle, he gained the undying respect and loyalty of the generals Kuan Yu and Chang Fei.
So it was as Liu Pei said…for him, getting Kung Ming as his Advisor was as good as a fish getting water. Now with Kung Ming by his side, it was time for Liu Pei’s star to shine, but the road to greatness was not strewn on a bed of roses for Liu Pei. Before that, he would have to face great adversity at the Chang-pa’an Slopes (Book XVIII)…