The Three Kingdoms, Volume 3: Welcome the Tiger: The Epic Chinese Tale of Loyalty and War in a Dynamic New Translation

The Three Kingdoms, Volume 3: Welcome the Tiger: The Epic Chinese Tale of Loyalty and War in a Dynamic New Translation by Luo Guanzhong Read Free Book Online

Book: The Three Kingdoms, Volume 3: Welcome the Tiger: The Epic Chinese Tale of Loyalty and War in a Dynamic New Translation by Luo Guanzhong Read Free Book Online
Authors: Luo Guanzhong
the enemy would flee toward the northwest, but would be caught before midnight.
    So Zhu Ran was assigned the task of placing the ambush at the first position with 5,000 veterans while Pan Zhang, with five hundred men, was to lie in wait near Linju.
    Back in Maicheng, Guan Yu mustered his fighting men. All told, there were only a little more than three hundred foot and horse soldiers. And there was no food or forage left. That night men of Wu came to the city walls and called to their friends inside by name, and many of these climbed over the wall and deserted, reducing the small force still further. There was no sign of the rescue force, so anxiously awaited. Guan Yu, at the end of his resources, turned to Wang Fu in deep remorse: “How much I regret I did not heed your warning! Now we are in such a crisis! What is to be done?”
    Wang Fu replied in tears, “Even if the ablest strategist of old should come to life again he would be helpless in this case.”
    Zhao Lei said, “The rescue force is still not here. It must be that Liu Feng and Meng Da have purposely withheld help. Let us abandon this isolated place and escape to Shu. We can return with a new army to recover the region.”
    “I think so, too,” agreed Guan Yu.
    Then he ascended the walls and surveyed the country. Noting that there were but few enemy soldiers outside the north gate, he called in some of the local inhabitants and inquired about the nature of the country on that side.
    They replied, “There are all hilly paths in that direction, but they lead to Shu.”
    “We will go that way tonight,” said Guan Yu.
    But Wang Fu suggested taking the main road, pointing out that they would surely fall into an ambush if they went by the pathways.
    “There may be an ambush, but what do I fear?” said the old warrior.
    Orders were given to ready the soldiers for the night sortie.
    “At least be very careful, general,” implored Wang Fu, weeping bitterly. “With my hundred men I will defend this city to the very last. Even if the city falls, we will never surrender. We will be expecting your speedy rescue.”
    Guan Yu also wept. Then leaving Zhou Cang to guard the city with Wang Fu, he rode out with Guan Ping, Zhao Lei, and a weak force of some two hundred men from the north gate. Guan Yu, his great sword ready to hand, took the lead. About the first watch, a distance of twenty li lay between them and the city. There they saw a deep cleft in the hills, from which echoed the sound of drums and gongs and the shouting of many men.
    Soon there appeared a large force with Zhu Ran at its head. He came dashing forward, and summoned Guan Yu to surrender to save his life. But Guan Yu whipped his steed to a gallop and bore down on the leader with anger in his eyes. Zhu Ran ran away. Guan Yu followed him but soon there came the loud boom of a large drum, and out sprang the hidden men from all sides. Guan Yu dared not engage such a number, and fled in the direction of Linju. Then Zhu Ran came up from behind and attacked the fleeing soldiers, so that Guan Yu’s forces gradually diminished.
    Still he struggled on. A little farther drums rolled again, and torches lit up all round. This was Pan Zhang’s ambush, and he appeared flourishing his sword. Guan Yu whirled his blade and went to meet him, but Pan Zhang ran away after a couple of bouts. However, Guan Yu dared not linger to fight but sought refuge among the mountains. Guan Ping came up from behind and told his father the sad news that the loyal Zhao Lei had been killed. Guan Yu was overcome with grief. Then he told his son to protect the rear while he forced his way in front.
    With only a dozen men in his following he reached Jueshi, a place banked on both sides by hills overgrown with trees and brambles. At the foot of these hills lay a thick mass of reeds and decayed leaves. It was then the close of the fifth watch. Presently the small party stumbled into another ambush, and the enemy thrust forth hooks and long

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