Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book XLI Deng Ai’s Heroic Capture of Chengtu

Jiang Wei was relentless in his mission to invade Wei as his mentor Kung Ming had been in the past. While Kung Ming led seven expeditions against Wei, Jiang Wei led nine! As Kung Ming had a great protégé in Jiang Wei, so Ssuma I had a similar one in Deng Ai. As such, the Wei general Deng Ai repulsed Jiang Wei nine times.

The two men were an equal match. In one battle, Jiang Wei used Kung Ming’s mechanical cows to store grain in his army, Deng Ai captured these and remodified them into Wei ones, but Jiang Wei immobilized them with an unknown button. In another battle, Jiang Wei used ballistas against the Wei army at the narrow pass with great effect.

In another famous battle, Deng Ai defeated Jiang Wei and ordered one of his generals in pursuit. The general shot an arrow at Jiang Wei, who caught it but pretended to be hit. When that general reached him, Jiang Wei threw the same arrow into his eye, instantly killing him. After that, Jiang Wei defeated Deng Ai at Jieting and threatened Wei’s western capital, Chang’an.

Unable to turn this invasion in his favor, Deng Ai bribed the evil eunuch to recall Jiang Wei. Returning to Chengtu, Jiang Wei was unable to punish the same eunuch for he did not have the charisma of Kung Ming and because Emperor Liu Chan was becoming a greater fool everyday.

Nevertheless, Jiang Wei’s men put up a good defense, and the Wei army led by another young general Chong Hui was unable to penetrate. Meanwhile, Deng Ai knew of a narrow pass through which they could invade Shu. In truth, this pass was manned by 100 of Kung Ming’s men, and it was so narrow that no great army could move through it safely, but Emperor Liu Chan of Shu was a great fool who had removed those men completely.

With 100,000 Wei soldiers, Deng Ai marched to this route, scaled it with great difficulties, and had to use makeshift parachutes to get through. Even without any resistance, he only made it through with half of his army. If Kung Ming’s men hath not been removed, it would have been virtually impossible for them to invade Shu.

Even with only half his men, Deng Ai marched heroically upon the Shu capital of Chengtu. Kung Ming’s sons put up a great defense, but were all slain by Deng Ai, who honored them in their death. Finally, the Wei army surrounded Chengtu, and Emperor Liu Chan surrendered along with massive tributes to Wei. Deng Ai had conquered the once mighty kingdom of Shu in one stroke of genius and bravery.

…But Jiang Wei did not give up easily. At first, he broke his sword on a rock in desperation upon hearing Liu Chan’s surrender. He then pretended to surrender to General Chong Hui of Wei in order to use the latter against Deng Ai. He then swore brotherhood to Chong Hui and the two marched upon Chengtu, whereupon they captured and executed Deng Ai as a traitor.

Jiang Wei then urged Chong Hui to rebel against Wei and reclaim the mantle of leadership from Emperor Liu Pei, but the then Wei Prime Minister Ssuma Chao found out about this, because one of the loyal Wei nobles left the party to tell him. He sent men to besiege Chong Hui and Jiang Wei in Chengtu. After a great bloodbath, Chong Hui’s rebellion was put down. Jiang Wei died in the process and was much honored by Ssuma Chao for his bravery and cunning. With Jiang Wei’s death, no real resistance would come from Shu any longer.

It was said that once Ssuma Chao wished to test former Emperor Liu Chan, so he set up a party. Liu Chan was a man without conscience. His son, the heroic Crown Prince, had committed suicide and slain his entire family to protest the Wei conquest of Shu, but Liu Chan went on enjoying himself in Loyang, the capital of Wei, as a guest of Ssuma Chao.

One day, Ssuma Chao set up a party with Wei ladies dancing. This, Liu Chan enjoyed. Then, he ordered Shu-style dancing. Upon seeing this, the former nobles wept, but Liu Chan remained oblivious of this. One of the Shu nobles pulled him aside and asked him to beg Ssuma Chao to be returned to Chengtu, where they could rebuilt Shu.

So Liu Chan feigned crying, and when Ssuma Chao asked him of the cause, he replied, “Seeing the Shu dance makes me think of home. I beg the Prince of Chin allow me to return to Shu.”

But Ssuma Chao was wise, so he answered, “It does not sound like you speaking, Liu Chan, but your nobles.”

With that, Liu Chan chuckled and said, “Yes, yes, my nobles told me to do this. You are so wise, my Lord Prince!”

Seeing Liu Chan’s stupidity, Ssuma Chao did not think much of him, saying that Shu was lost under such leader. Even if Kung Ming was alive, no one could really save Shu. After that, he allowed Liu Chan to live in his court, for he was no harm to Wei or Ssuma Chao’s own ambitions, as we shall see later.

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