Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book XXXVII : Kung Ming Gains a Disciple

Having pacified the southern borders, Kung Ming marched northwards to Han Chong with the intention of invading Tian Shui. This city belonged to Wei and was under the control of another Wei city of An Ding. The importance of Tian Shui was that it was defended by a promising young general called Jiang Wei. It was also the gateway for Shu to launch its invasion to the rest of Wei kingdom. At this time, Emperor Ts’ao Pi of Wei hath demoted Ssuma I, Ts’ao Ts’ao’s advisor, to Grand Librarian and eventually even forced him to resign. For this reason, Wei was weakened and ripe for an invasion by Kung Ming, who hath tricked Ts’ao Pi into doing so by sending rumors that Ssuma I wished to seize the throne for himself. As far as Kung Ming was concerned, the old fox Ssuma I was his biggest rival for supremacy.

However, the Battle of Tian Shui was not easily won as Kung Ming expected. Jiang Wei successfully defended the city against attacks by the Marshal Chao Yun and the young general Kuan Xing. Shortly after this combat, the aged Marshal Chao Yun died peacefully. He was undefeated all his life.

In the second battle, Jiang Wei successfully ambushed Kung Ming and torched the Shu camp outside the outnumbered city of Tian Shui. Kung Ming, however, now had great respect for Jiang Wei’s many talents.

First, he ordered Chang Pao to lure Jiang Wei out to attack him. Then, he ordered Kuan Xing, who was about the same age and stature as Jiang Wei, to disguise as him and attack An Ding. The governor of An Ding now thought Jiang Wei as a traitor, and he was barred from returning to either An Ding or Tian Shui.

Finally, Jiang Wei’s small army was enveloped by two of Kung Ming’s Shu armies, led by Kuan Xing and Chang Pao. Not wanting to die young without any great feat to his name, Jiang Wei agreed to surrender to Kung Ming.

From then on, Kung Ming accepted Jiang Wei as his disciple and would one day groom him as his successor. Shortly after this great battle, both Kuan Xing and Chang Pao would die. The two young generals had fought valiantly most of their young lives. Kuan Xing, son of Kuan Yu, claimed that the peace was killing him, but of course, that is nonsense. His doctors said the strain of combat took a toll on his body.

Kung Ming hath lost many generals but now he gained a disciple who would carry on his works in  the future. The battle against Wei was far from over. In the next episode, Kung Ming would meet his arch-nemesis for the first time in combat. Don’t miss Book XXXVIII Ssuma I Defeats Ma Xu at Jie Ting

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