Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义)

With Contributor Notes
ThreeKingdoms.com
(Original Online Novel)
About the Three Kingdoms
Kongming’s Archives
Character Encyclopedia
Novel Purchase Guide
Attributed to
Luo Guanzhong
(Circa 1300–1400)
Translated by
C.H. Brewitt-Taylor
Edited by
Snow N. Snow

Chapter 68

Gan Ning’s Hundred Horsemen Raid the Northern Camp
Zuo Ci’s Flung-Down Cup Fools Cao Cao

Sun Quan was occupied in ordering his army at Ruxu when he heard of the coming of Cao Cao from Hanzhong with four hundred thousand troops to the relief of Hefei. He told off a fleet of fifty large ships to lie in the port, while Chen Wu went up and down the river banks on the look-out.

“It would be well to inflict a defeat upon Cao Cao’s army before they recover from the long march. It would dishearten them,” said Zhang Zhao.

Looking around at the officers in his tent, Sun Quan said, “Who is bold enough to go forth and fight this Cao Cao and so take the keen edge off the spirit of his army?”

And Ling Tong offered himself, saying, “I will go!”

“How many soldiers do you require?”

“Three thousand troops will suffice,” replied Ling Tong.

But Gan Ning struck in, saying, “Only a hundred horse would be needed. Why send three thousand?”

Ling Tong was angry, and he and Gan Ning began to wrangle even in the presence of their chief.

Cao Cao’s army is too strong to be attacked recklessly,” said Sun Quan.

Finally he gave the commission to Ling Tong with his three thousand, bidding him reconnoiter just outside Ruxu, and fight the enemy if he met him.

Marching out, Ling Tong very soon saw a great cloud of dust, which marked the approach of an army. As soon as they came near enough, Zhang Liao, who led the van, engaged with Ling Tong, and they fought half a hundred bouts without sign of victory for either. Then Sun Quan began to fear for his champion, so he sent Lü Meng to extricate Ling Tong from the battle and escort him home.

When Ling Tong had come back, his rival Gan Ning went to Sun Quan and said, “Now let me have the hundred horsemen, and I will raid the enemy’s camp this night. If I lose a soldier or a mount, I will claim no merit.”

Sun Quan commended his courage and chose a hundred of his best veterans, whom he placed under Gan Ning’s command for the raid. Sun Quan also gave him as a feast for the soldiers fifty flasks of wine and seventy five pounds of mutton.

Returning to the tents, Gan Ning drew up his little force and made them sit down in rows. Then he filled two silver goblets with wine and solemnly drank to them.

Next he said, “Comrades, tonight our orders are to raid the camp of the enemy. Wherefore fill your goblets and call up all your strength for the task.”

But the men did not welcome his words. Instead they looked one at another uncertain.

Seeing them in this mood, Gan Ning adopted a fierce tone, drew his sword and cried, “What are you waiting for? If I, a leader of rank, can risk my life, cannot you?”

Moved by the angry face of the leader, the men rose, bowed their heads and said, “We will fight to the last!”

Then the wine and meat were distributed to them and each one ate his fill. The second watch was chosen as the hour to start, and each man stuck a white goose plume in his cap whereby they could recognize each other in the darkness.

At the time appointed they buckled on their armor, mounted and, galloping away, quickly came to Cao Cao’s camp. Hastily throwing aside the thorny barriers, they burst in with a yell that rose to the very heavens. They made straight for the center, hoping to slay Cao Cao himself. But the troops of the leader’s brigade had made a rampart of their carts within which they were sheltered as if in an iron tun, so that the raiders failed to find a way in.

However, Gan Ning and his small force dashed hither and thither, cutting and slashing, till Cao Cao’s men were quite bewildered and frightened. They had no notion of the number of their assailants. All their efforts only increased the confusion. Wherefore the hundred men had it all their own way and rushed from point to point slaying whomever they met. But soon the drums beat in every camp and torches were lit and shouts arose, and it was time for the raiders to get away.

Gan Ning led his little body of troops out through the south gate with never a soldier trying to stop him, and rode for his own camp. He met Zhou Tai, who had been sent to help him in case of need; but the need had not arisen, and the hundred heroes with their leader rode back in triumph. There was no pursuit.

A poem was written praising this exploit:

The drums of war make earth to shake
When the South Land comes near even devils quake.
People long will tell of that night raid,
That Gan Ning’s goose-plumed warriors made.

On his return, Gan Ning took the tale of his men at the camp gate, not a man nor a horse was missing. He entered to the sound of drum and fife and the shouting of his men.

“Long life!” shouted they, as Sun Quan came to welcome them.

Gan Ning dismounted and prostrated himself.

His lord raised him, and took him by the hand, saying, “This expedition of yours must have given those rebels a shaking. I had yielded to your desire only I wished to give you the opportunity to manifest your valor. I did not wish to let you be sacrificed.”

Gan Ning’s exploit was rewarded with gifts, a thousand rolls of silk and a hundred keen swords, all of which he distributed among his soldiers.

Sun Quan was very proud of his subordinate’s doughty deed, and said, “Cao Cao may have his Zhang Liao, but I can match him with my friend Gan Ning.”

Soon Zhang Liao came to proffer another challenge, and Ling Tong, impatient at being excelled by his rival and enemy, begged that he might go out to fight. His request was granted, and he marched out a short distance from Ruxu with five thousand troops. Sun Quan, with Gan Ning in his train, went out to look on at the encounter.

When both armies had come out on the plain and were arrayed, Zhang Liao, with Li Dian and Yue Jin, one on either side, advanced to the front. Ling Tong, sword in hand, galloped out towards him and, at Zhang Liao’s command, Yue Jin took the challenge and went to open the combat. They fought half a hundred bouts, and neither seemed to have the better of the other.

Then Cao Cao, hearing of the great contest going on, rode up to the battlefield and took position under the great standard, whence he could see the fighting. Seeing both combatants were waxing desperate, he thought to decide the struggle by an unfair blow. He bade Cao Xiu let fly a secret arrow, which Cao Xiu did by creeping up under cover of Zhang Liao. It struck Ling Tong’s steed, which reared and threw its rider. Yue Jin dashed forward to thrust at the fallen warrior with his spear, but before the blow could be given, the twang of another bow was heard and an arrow speeding by hit Yue Jin full in the face. He fell from his horse. Then both sides rushed forward to rescue their champions. The gongs clanged, and the combat ceased. Ling Tong returned to his camp and reported himself to his master.

“The arrow that saved you was shot by Gan Ning,” said Sun Quan.

Ling Tong turned to his rival and bowed low.

“I could not have supposed you would have rendered me such a service, Sir,” said he to Gan Ning.

This episode ended the strife and enmity between the two leaders, who thereafter swore perpetual friendship.

On the other side Cao Cao saw to it that Yue Jin’s wound was dressed. Next day he launched an attack against Ruxu along five different lines. He himself led one army in the center; on the left Zhang Liao and Li Dian led two armies; on the right Xu Huang and Pang De commanded the other two. Each army was ten thousand strong, and they marched to give battle on the river bank. The crews and fighting troops of the South Land’s naval squadron were greatly frightened by the approach of these armies.

“You have eaten the bread of your prince, and you must give loyal service. Why fear?” said Xu Sheng.

Thereupon he put some hundreds of his best men into small boats, went along the bank, and broke into the legion under Li Dian. Meanwhile Dong Xi on the ships beat drums and cheered them on. But a great storm came on, lashing the river to fury, and the waves rolled mountains high. The larger ships rolled as if they would overturn, and the soldiers of Wu were frightened. They started to get down into the bulkier cargo-boats to save their lives. But Dong Xi threatened them with his sword, cutting down some half score of the mutineers.

“My orders are to hold this point against the enemy,” shouted he. “We dare not abandon the ships!”

However, the wind increased, and presently the bold Dong Xi was thrown into the river by the rolling of his ship and was drowned, together with his men.

Xu Sheng dashed hither and thither among Li Dian’s army, slaying right and left. Chen Wu, hearing the noise of battle, set out for the river bank. On his way Chen Wu met Pang De and the legion under him. A melee ensued. Then Sun Quan with Zhou Tai and his troops joined in.

The small force from the ships that had attacked Li Dian was now surrounded. So Sun Quan gave the signal for an onslaught that should rescue them. This failed, and Sun Quan was himself surrounded in turn and soon in desperate straits. From a height, Cao Cao saw his difficulties and sent in Xu Chu to cut Sun Quan’s column in halves so that neither half could aid the other.

When Zhou Tai had cut an alley out of the press and reached the riverside, he looked for his master. But Sun Quan was nowhere visible, so Zhou Tai dashed once again into the battle.

Coming to his own troops, he cried, “Where is our lord?”

They pointed to where the press was most dense. Zhou Tai stiffened and dashed in.

Presently he reached his lord’s side and cried out, “My lord, follow me, and I will hack a way out!”

Zhou Tai fought his way out to the river bank. Then he turned to look, and Sun Quan was not behind him. So he turned back, forced his way in, and once again found his way to his master’s side.

“I cannot get out. The arrows are too thick!” said Sun Quan.

“Then go first, my lord, and I will follow!”

Sun Quan then urged his steed as fast as he could go, and Zhou Tai kept off all pursuit. Zhou Tai sustained many wounds and the arrows rattled on his helmet, but he got clear at last and Sun Quan was safe. As they neared the river bank, Lü Meng came up with some of the naval force and escorted Sun Quan down to the ships.

“I owe my safety to Zhou Tai, who thrice came to my aid,” said Sun Quan. “But Xu Sheng is still in the thick of the fight, and how can we save him?”

“I will go to his rescue,” cried Zhou Tai.

Whirling his spear, Zhou Tai again plunged into the battle and presently brought his colleague safely out of the press. Both were severely wounded.

Lü Meng ordered his troops to keep up a rapid flight of arrows so as to command the bank, and in this way the two leaders were enabled to get on board the ships.

Now Chen Wu had engaged the legion under Pang De. Being inferior in force and no aid being forthcoming, Chen Wu was forced into a valley where the trees and undergrowth were very dense. He tried to turn, but was caught by the branches, and while so entangled he was killed by Pang De.

When Cao Cao saw that Sun Quan had escaped from the battle to the river bank, he urged his steed forward in pursuit. He sent flights of arrows toward the fugitives. By this time Lü Meng’s troops had emptied their quivers, and he began to be very anxious. But just then a fleet of ships sailed up led by Lu Xun, the son-in-law of Sun Ce, who came with one hundred thousand marines and drove back Cao Cao’s army. Then he landed to pursue. He captured many thousands of horses and slew many men, so that Cao Cao was quite defeated and retired. Then they sought and found the body of Chen Wu among the slain.

Sun Quan was much grieved when he came to know that Chen Wu had been slain and Dong Xi drowned, and wept sore. Men were sent to seek for Dong Xi’s body, which at last was found. Both generals were buried with great honors.

As a recompense for Zhou Tai’s services in Sun Quan’s rescue, Sun Quan prepared in his honor a great banquet, where Sun Quan himself offered Zhou Tai a goblet of wine and complimented and embraced him while the tears coursed down his cheeks.

“Twice you saved my life, careless of your own,” cried Sun Quan, “and you have received many wounds. It is as if your skin had been engraved and painted. What sort of a man should I be if I did not treat you as one of my own flesh and blood? Can I regard you, Noble Sir, merely as a unit in my army? You are my meritorious minister. I share the glory you have won and mine are your joys and sorrows.”

Then Sun Quan bade Zhou Tai open his dress and exhibit his wounds for all the assembly to see. The skin was gashed all over as if his body had been scored with a knife. Sun Quan pointed to the wounds, one after another, and asked how each one had been received. And, as Zhou Tai told him, for every wound Sun Quan made him drink off a goblet of wine till he became thoroughly intoxicated. Sun Quan then presented him with a green silk parasol and bade him use it on all occasions as a sign of the glory that was his.

But Sun Quan found his opponents too stable. At the end of a month the two armies were both at Ruxu and neither had won a victory.

Then said Zhang Zhao and Gu Yong, “Cao Cao is too strong, and we cannot overcome him by mere force. If the struggle continues longer, you will only lose more soldiers. You had better seek to make peace.”

Sun Quan followed this advice and dispatched Bu Zhi on a peace mission to Cao Cao’s camp. Sun Quan offered a yearly tribute. Cao Cao also saw that the South Land was too strong to be overcome, and consented.

Cao Cao insisted, “The Marquis should first send away his army, and then I would retire.”

Bu Zhi returned with this message, and Sun Quan sent away the greater part, leaving only Zhou Tai and Jiang Qin to hold Ruxu. The army returned to Capital Jianye.

Cao Cao left Cao Ren and Zhang Liao in charge of Hefei, and he marched the army back to Capital Xuchang.

On arrival, all Cao Cao’s officers, military and civil, persuaded him to become Prince of Wei. Only the Chair of the Secretariat, Cui Yan, spoke strongly against the scheme.

“You are, then, the only man who knows not the fate of Xun Yu,” said his colleagues.

“Such times! Such deeds!” cried Cui Yan. “You are guilty of rebellion, but you may commit it yourselves. I will bear no part in it.”

Certain enemies told Cao Cao, and Cui Yan was thrown into prison. At his trial he glared like a tiger, and his very beard curled with contempt. He raged and cursed at Cao Cao for a betrayer of his prince, and a rebel. The interrogating magistrate reported his conduct to Cao Cao, who ordered Cui Yan to be beaten to death in prison.

Cui Yan of Qinghe,
Firm and unyielding was he,
With beard crisp curling and gleaming eyes,
Which showed the man of stone and iron within.
He drove the evil from his presence,
And his glory is fair and high.
For loyalty to his lord of Han,
His fame shall increase as the ages roll.

In the twenty-first year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (216), in the fifth month of that year, a great memorial signed by many officers went up to Emperor Xian [Liu Xie], praying:

“The Duke of Wei has rendered so great services that no minister before him, in Heaven as well as on Earth, not even Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou, could match his manifest merits to the state. Thus, the title of kingship should be granted to him.”

The memorial was approved, and a draft edict was prepared by the famous Zhong Yao to make Cao Cao Prince of Wei. Thrice Cao Cao with seeming modesty pretended to decline the honor, but thrice was his refusal rejected. Finally he made his obeisance and was enrolled as Prince of Wei with the usual insignia and privileges, a coronet with twelve strings of beads and a chariot with gilt shafts, drawn by six steeds. Using the formalities of the Son of God, he decorated his imperial chariot with bells and had the roads cleared when he passed along. He built himself a Palace at Yejun.

Then he began to discuss the appointment of an heir-apparent. His principal wife, Lady Ding, was without issue; but a concubine, Lady Liu, had borne him a son, Cao Ang, who had been killed in battle at the siege of Wancheng when Cao Cao fought against Zhang Xiu. A second concubine, Empress Bian, had borne him four sons: Cao Pi, Cao Zhang, Cao Zhi, and Cao Xiong. Wherefore he elevated Empress Bian to the rank of Queen of Wei in place of Lady Ding.

The third son, Cao Zhi, was very clever and a ready master of composition. Cao Cao wished him to be named the heir.

Then the eldest son, Cao Pi sought from the High Adviser Jia Xu a plan to secure his rights of primogeniture, and Jia Xu told him to do so and so. Thereafter, whenever the father went out on any military expedition, Cao Zhi wrote fulsome panegyrics, but Cao Pi wept so copiously at bidding his father farewell that the courtiers were deeply affected and remarked that though Cao Zhi was crafty and clever, he was not so sincerely filial as Cao Pi. Cao Pi also bought over his father’s immediate attendants, who then rang the praises of his virtues so loud that Cao Cao was strongly disposed to name him as the heir after all.

After hesitating a long time, the matter was referred to Jia Xu.

“I wish to name my heir. Who shall it be?” said Cao Cao.

Jia Xu would not say, and Cao Cao asked why.

“I was just recalling the past in my mind and could not reply at once,” said Jia Xu.

“What were you recalling?”

“I was thinking of two fathers, Yuan Shao and Liu Biao, and their sons.”

Cao Cao laughed. Soon after this he declared his eldest son his heir.

In the winter of that year, in the tenth month, the building of the Palace of the new Prince of Wei was completed, and the furnishing begun. From all parts were collected rare flowers and uncommon trees to beautify the gardens. One agent went into the South Land and saw Sun Quan, to whom he presented a letter from Cao Cao asking that he might be allowed to proceed to Wenzhou to get some oranges. At that period Sun Quan was in a most complaisant mood toward Cao Cao, so from the orange trees in his own city, he picked forty loads of very fine fruits and sent them immediately to Yejun.

On the way, the bearers of the oranges fell tired, and they had to stop at the foot of a certain hill. There came along an elderly man, blind of one eye and lame of one leg, who wore a white rattan headdress and a black loose robe. He saluted the bearers and stayed to talk.

Presently he said, “Your burdens are heavy, O Porters. May this old Daoist lend you a shoulder? What do you say?”

Naturally they were pleased enough, and the amiable wayfarer bore each load for two miles. When they resumed their burdens, they noticed that the loads seemed lighter than before, and they felt rather suspicious.

When the Daoist was taking his leave of the officer in charge of the party, he said, “I am an old friend from the same village as the Prince of Wei. My name is Zuo Ci. Among Daoists I bear the appellation of ‘Black Horn’. When you get to the end of your journey, you may say that I was inquiring after your lord.”

Zuo Ci shook down his sleeves and left. In due course the orange bearers reached the new Palace, and the oranges were presented. But when Cao Cao cut one open, it was but an empty shell of a thing: There was no pulp beneath the rind. Cao Cao was rather puzzled and called in the porters, who told him of their falling in with the mysterious Daoist on the way. But Cao Cao scouted the idea of that being the reason.

But just then the warden of the gate sent to say that a certain Daoist named Zuo Ci was at the gate and wished to see the king.

“Send him in,” said Cao Cao.

“He is the man we met on the way,” said the porters when he appeared.

Cao Cao said curtly, “What sorcery have you been exercising on my beautiful fruit?”

“How could such a thing happen?” said the Daoist.

Thereupon he cut open an orange and showed it full of pulp, most delicious to the taste. But when Cao Cao cut open another, that again was empty, nothing but rind.

Cao Cao was more than ever perplexed. He bade his visitor be seated, and, as Zuo Ci asked for refreshment, wine and food were brought in. The Daoist ate ravenously, consuming a whole sheep, and drank in proportion. Yet he showed no sign of intoxication or repletion.

“By what magic are you here?” said Cao Cao.

“I am but a poor Daoist. I went into Jialing in Shu, and on Emei Mountain, I studied the way for thirty long years. One day I heard my name called from out the rocky wall of my cell. I looked, but could see nothing. The same thing happened next day, and so on for many days. Then suddenly, with a roar like thunder, the rock split asunder, and I saw a sacred book in three volumes called ‘The Book of Concealing Method’—the first volume was named ‘Concealing Heaven’, the second ‘Concealing Earth’, and the third ‘Concealing Human’. From the first volume I learned to ascend to the clouds astride the wind, to sail up into the great void itself; from the second to pass through mountains and penetrate rocks; from the third, to float light as vapor, over the seas, to become invisible at will or change my shape, to fling swords and project daggers so as to decapitate a man from a distance. You, O Prince, have reached the acme of glory. Why not now withdraw and, like me, become a disciple of the Daoists? Why not travel to Emei Mountain and there mend your ways so that I may bequeath my three volumes to you ?”

“Oft have I reflected upon this course and struggled against my fate, but what can I do? There is no one to maintain the government,” replied Cao Cao.

“There is Liu Bei of Yizhou, a scion of the dynastic family. Could you not make way for him? If you do not, I may have to send one of my flying swords after your head one day.”

“You are one of his secret agents,” said Cao Cao, suddenly enraged. “Seize him!” cried he to his lictors.

They did so, while the Daoist laughed. And Zuo Ci continued to laugh as they dragged him down to the dungeons, where they beat him cruelly. And when they had finished, the Daoist lay there gently respiring in a sound sleep, just as if he felt nothing whatever.

This enraged Cao Cao still more, and he bade them put the priest into the large wooden collar and nail it securely and then chain him in a cell. And Cao Cao set guards over him, and the guards saw the collar and chains just fall off while the victim lay fast asleep not injured in the least.

The Daoist lay in prison seven days without food or water. But when they went to look at him, he was sitting upright on the ground, quite well and rosy looking.

The gaolers reported these things to Cao Cao, who had the prisoner brought in.

“I do not mind going without food for years,” said the victim, when Cao Cao questioned him, “yet I could eat a thousand sheep in a day.”

Cao Cao was at the end of his resources. He could prevail nothing against such a man.

That day there was to be a great banquet at the new Palace, and guests came in crowds. When the banquet was in progress and the wine cup passing freely, suddenly the same Daoist appeared. He had wooden clogs on his feet. All faces turned in his direction and not a few were afraid; others wondered.

Standing there in front of the great assembly, the Daoist said, “O Powerful Prince, here today you have every delicacy on the table and a glorious company of guests. You have rare and beautiful objects from all parts of the world. Is there anything lacking? If there be anything you would like, name it and I will get it for you.”

Cao Cao replied, “Then I want a dragon’s liver to make soup: Can you get that?”

“Where’s the difficulty?” replied Zuo Ci.

With a pencil the Daoist immediately sketched a dragon on the whitewashed wall of the banquet hall. Then he flicked his sleeve over it, the dragon’s belly opened of itself, and therefrom Zuo Ci took the liver all fresh and bloody.

“You had the liver hidden in your sleeve,” said Cao Cao, incredulous.

“Then there shall be another test,” said the Daoist. “It is winter and every plant outside is dead. What flower would you like, O Prince. Name any one you will.”

“I want a peony,” said Cao Cao.

“Easy,” said the Daoist.

At this request they brought out a flower-pot, which was placed in full view of the guests. Then he spurted some water over it, and in a very short time up came a peony with two fully expanded flowers.

The guests were astonished, and they asked the Daoist to be seated and gave him wine and food. The cook sent in some minced fish.

“The best mince is made from the perch of River Song,” said the Daoist.

“How can you get fish five hundred miles away?” said Cao Cao.

“Not at all difficult. Tell someone to get a rod and hook, and fish in the pond just below this banquet hall.”

They did so, and very soon several beautiful perches lay on the steps.

“I have always kept some of these in my ponds, of course,” said Cao Cao.

“O Prince, do you think to deceive me? All perches have two gills except the River Song perch, which has two pairs. That is the distinguishing feature.”

The guests crowded round to look, and, surely enough, the fish had four gills.

“To cook this perch one needs purple sprout ginger though,” said the Daoist.

“Can you also produce that?” asked Cao Cao.

“Easily.”

Zuo Ci told them to bring in a silver bowl, which the magician filled with water. Very soon the ginger filled the bowl, and he presented it to the host. Cao Cao put out his hand to pick some, when suddenly a book appeared in the bowl and the title was Cao Cao’s New Treatise on the Art of War. He took it out and read it over. Not a word of his treatise was missing.

Cao Cao became more mystified. Zuo Ci took up a jade cup that stood on the table, filled it with fine wine, and presented it to Cao Cao.

“Drink this, O Prince, and you will live a thousand years.”

“Drink of it first yourself,” said Cao Cao.

The Daoist took the jade pin from his headdress and drew it across the cup as if dividing the wine into two portions.

Then he drank one half and handed the cup with the other half to Cao Cao. But Cao Cao angrily refused it. The Daoist then threw the cup into the air, where it was transformed into a white dove which circled round the banquet hall and then flew away.

All faces were turned upward following the flight of the dove, and so no one had noticed the going of the Daoist. But he was gone; and soon the gate warden reported that he had left the Palace.

Said Cao Cao, “A magician like this ought to be put to death, or he will do some mischief.”

The redoubtable Xu Chu and a company of three hundred armed men were sent to arrest the Daoist. They saw the Daoist, still wearing his wooden clogs, not far ahead but striding along quickly. Xu Chu rode after Zuo Ci, but in spite of all his horse could do, he could not come up with Zuo Ci. Xu Chu kept up the chase right to the hills, when he met a shepherd lad with a flock of sheep. And there walked the Daoist among the sheep. The Daoist disappeared. The angry warrior slew the whole flock of sheep, while the shepherd lad looked on weeping.

Suddenly the boy heard a voice from one of the severed heads, telling him to replace the heads on the bodies of his sheep. Instead of doing so, he fled in terror, covering his face.

Then he heard a voice calling to him, “Do not run away. You shall have your sheep again.”

He turned, and lo! the sheep were all alive again, and Zuo Ci was driving them along. The boy began to question him, but the Daoist made no reply. With a flick of his sleeves, he was gone.

The shepherd lad went home and told all these marvels to his master, who could not conceal such a story, and it reached Cao Cao. Then sketches of the Daoist were sent everywhere with orders to arrest him. Within three days were arrested in the city and outside three or four hundred persons all blind of one eye, lame of one leg, and wearing a rattan headdress, a black loose robe and wooden clogs. They were all alike and all answered to the description of the missing Daoist.

There was a great hubbub in the street. Cao Cao ordered his officer to sprinkle the crowd of Daoists with the blood of pigs and goats in order to exorcise the witchcraft and take them away to the drill ground on the south of the city. Thither he followed them with his guards, who surrounded the crowd of arrested persons and slew everyone. But from the neck of each one, after the head was severed, there floated up into the air a wreath of black vapor, and all these wreaths drifted toward a center where they joined up into the image of another Zuo Ci, who presently beckoned to him a white crane out of the sky, mounted it and sat as on a horse.

Clapping his hands, the Daoist cried merrily, “The rats of the earth follow the golden tiger, and one morning the doer of evil shall be no more.”

The soldiers shot arrows at both bird and man. At this a tremendous storm burst over the city. Stones were driven along, sand was whirled about, and all the corpses arose from the ground, each holding his own head in his hands. They rushed toward Cao Cao as if to strike him. The officials covered their eyes, and none dared to look another in the face.

The power of a bold man will overturn a state,
The art of a necromancer also produces wonders.

Read the next chapter and you will know the fate of Cao Cao.