Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book XXXII : Kuan Yu’s Last Stand

Lu Meng led the Wu forces to Lukow but did not march against Kuan Yu, who had set up formidable defenses at Chingchou. There were lighthouse towers across the outskirts of Chingchou. If a Wu army was spotted, they would simply alert the next tower until all of Chinghcou was up in arms. Not knowing how to attack, Lu Meng feigned sickness.

A minor (but brilliant) scholar of Wu called Lu Xun, however, visited him on Sun Quan’s behalf. Lu Xun told Lu Meng that he knew the cure. Lu Meng perked up and listened attentively. Lu Meng then went to Sun Quan and asked him to appoint Lu Xun as governor of Lukow, because he was in the best position to execute his own plan.

Lu Xun was seen as a weak scholar from a well-to-do family in Wu, not a hardy general as Lu Meng, so Kuan Yu kinda let down his guard on this guy. To make Kuan Yu underestimate him even further, Lu Xun sent complimentary notes to Kuan Yu with very submissive terms. Overconfident, Kuan Yu decided to march out against Wei but left some men under his generals to guard Chingchou.

Meanwhile, a small fleet of ships reached Chingchou by river during a stormy day and asked for safe harbor. The tower on the Chingchou outskirt was hesitant but saw that they were only merchants. The merchants offered the soldiers wine in return for their kindness.

As the soldiers at that tower grew drunk, the merchants revealed their true selves. They were really Wu soldiers in disguise, and there were led by Lu Meng himself! Lu Meng easily stormed the tower. He then captured the next tower easily, pretending he came from the first. In this manner, he captured all the alert towers of Chingchou. Lu Meng’s strong forces now besieged Chingchou, and Kuan Yu ordered for reinforcements.

But it was too late. Bi Hong and Pao Su Yun, who were guardians of Chingchou, submitted to Lu Meng. Kuan Yu’s trusty commander, Liao Hua, reached Liu Hong (Liu Pei’s adopted son) and Meng Da (a former general of Liu Zhang who hath submitted to Liu Pei). Meng Da advised Liu Hong against aiding Kuan Yu, saying that they had too few soldiers, so Liao Hua was forced to seek direct assistance from Liu Pei at Chengtu. It would take forever to travel to the Shu capital.

In the meantime, Kuan Yu lost Chingchou and was besieged by Lu Meng in Pek-Tae. He was also grossly outnumbered and had no chance of retaliating. To further tip the balance in his favor, Lu Meng had the men of Chingchou call out to their comrades to surrender, saying how generous Lu Meng was.

In fact, Lu Meng was an honorable general. He punished anyone who bullied people of Chingchou, even a man from his own village for simply stealing a straw hat from the villagers. He also paid the Chingchou families wages due to Kuan Yu’s men. His generosity and fairness became legendary. With little men left, Kuan Yu tried to flee from Pek-Tae but was captured. His faithful warrior, Chou Cang, committed suicide when he heard Kuan Yu had been defeated.

Kuan Yu and his son Kuan Ping simply refused to surrender to Sun Quan, who really admired him. Chang Chiao advised Sun Quan to kill Kuan Yu saying that Ts’ao Ts’ao hath once let him go and later had to regret, almost fleeing from Xu Chang at Kuan Yu’s prowress in combat.

So sadly, Sun Quan beheaded Kuan Yu, but sent his head to Ts’ao Ts’ao to frame him. Ts’ao Ts’ao would honor Kuan Yu and appoint him post-mortem as Marquis of Chingchou. So this is how the life of the great warrior ends. After Kuan Yu’s death, he was worshipped as the God of Honesty and Courage by Chinese to this day.

Now, Chingchou fell into Wu hands after long last.

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