Saturday, December 31, 2011
Book XXI : Kung Ming Angers Chou Yu Thrice
Badly defeated, Ts’ao Ts’ao rested for a while before returning north. Fearful that the allies (Wu and Liu Pei) would attack his strongholds in the South, he sent a plan to his cousin Ts’ao Ren, governor of Lum Yong (Yuan Shu’s former city), so that the latter could defend Lum Yong properly. Lum Yong was important due to its proximity to Chingchou. If it fell, Chingchou could be threatened.
Meanwhile, Chou Yu and Lu Ssu fear that Kung Ming would seize the 3 Wei cities of the south, Lum Yong, Chingchou, and Xin Ye if they did not negotiate beforehand. Hence, the Wu generals went to meet Kung Ming in a half-threatening manner, claiming that it was Wu that helped Liu Pei during the hard times and expended a great numbers of troops. By rights of conquest, the three cities belonged to them.
So Kung Ming said that he was only wanting to help Wu against Ts’ao Ren of Wei. In fact, he would only take the cities if Wu failed to do so. Chou Yu liked the wager and the thought that he would be a first mover in the battle and not Kung Ming, so he signed the agreement: “Wu would get first rights to move on all three cities of Wei in the South, but only if Wu failed to conquer them would Liu Pei’s army be allowed to conquer them later.”…and so that was the gentleman’s agreement between Kung Ming and Chou Yu.
In the first battle of Lum Yong, Chou Yu fell into a trap set by Ts’ao Ren, who also shot a poisoned arrow into his arm. Though Chou Yu survived, the poison could not be removed entirely. The doctor advised Chou Yu not to get angry lest the impact of the poison would harm him.
So Chou Yu ordered the Wu camp to feign his death. Seeing the mock funeral, Ts’ao Ren thought it was an opportunity to go beyond his role and destroy the Wu army camped outside. He attacked the Wu camp, but was ambushed and defeated by Chou Yu, who was still well and alive. Chou Yu pursued Ts’ao Ren back to the walls of Lum Yong, hoping to capture the city.
…But alas, Chao Yun hath already captured it in Ts’ao Ren’s absence. Chou Yu was very angry, but he could not do anything. Chao Yun taunted him from above, “Grand General Chou Yu, I was afraid you could not defeat Ts’ao Ren, so I decided to come to your aid.”
Chou Yu was very angry, but there was no point in attacking Chao Yun’s forces who were his allies and already in a secure position. Instead, Chou Yu decided to march on Chingchou instead. After all, was Chingchou not the grand price in this battle?
However, when Chou Yu’s army reached Chingchou, he was in for a bitter surprise. Kung Ming had already seized control of this crucial city. He basically forged a message from Ts’ao Ren to the governor of Chingchou to send assistance to Lum Yong. As the governor’s army left, Kung Ming seized the prosperous city, and its citizens, who were already in favor of Liu Pei, supported them. Meanwhile, the governor, like Chou Yu, was unable to enter Lum Yong, which was now securely in the control of Chao Yun.
Once again, Chou Yu was deeply angry that he had lost this most important jewel to Kung Ming, but he had no choice but to move on. Kung Ming claimed that Wu was unable to take Chingchou on its own and hence hath lost its wager.
Now, Chou Yu marched out against the last city of Xin Ye, but he was again in for a massive surprise. Kung Ming’s general Kuan Yu hath already seized this city!!
How was this possible? Basically, Kung Ming used the same dirty trick, tricking the governor of Xin Ye into a futile rescue of Chingchou by forging Ts’ao Ren’s orders. Chou Yu was inconsolable and wanted to attack Xin Ye despite the treaty between himself and Kung Ming, but Kuan Yu was a great marksman and hath fired several arrows to defend Xin Ye.
Knowing he was no match against Kuan Yu in the heavily fortified city, Chou Yu finally retreated. He was so angry with Kung Ming that he vomited blood and nearly died. Now, Wu was weakened, and the famous Wei general Ts’ao Ren was forced to flee north. It was clear that Liu Pei’s tiny army was on the ascendance. The capture of Chingchou would greatly improve his strength.
Now, Kung Ming was bent on enlarging Liu Pei’s domain even further. He laid his eyes on the four cities surrounding Chingchou, namely Lumkun, Wu Ling, Ling Ling, and of course…Changsha, the former home of the Sun clan themselves. Don’t miss the next episode of Liu Pei’s ascendancy in …The Road to Changsha (Book XXII).