| Chapter 90 |
Chasing Off Wild Beasts, The Prime Minister Defeats The Mangs For The Sixth Time;
All the prisoners were released. Yang Fang and his sons were rewarded with ranks, and his people were given presents. They expressed their gratitude and returned to their own, while Meng Huo and his brother hastened home to Silver Pit Ravine.
Outside this ravine were three rivers---River Lu, River Gannan, and River Xicheng. These three streams united to form the Three Rivers. Close to the ravine on the north was a wide and fruitful plain; on the west were salt wells. The River Lu flowed about seventy miles to the southwest, and due south was a valley called the Liangdu Ravine. There were hills in, as well as surrounding, the ravine, and in these they found silver---whence the name "Silver Pit".
A palace complex had been built in the ravine, which the Mang kings had made their stronghold, and there was an ancestral temple, which they called "Family Spirits", where they solemnized sacrifices of bulls and horses at the four seasons. They called these sacrifices "Inquiring of the Spirits". Human sacrifices were offered also, humans of Shu or of their own people belonging to other villages. The sick swallowed no drugs, but prayed to a chief sorcerer, called "Drug Demon". There was no legal code, the only punishment for every transgression being death.
When girls were grown and became women, they bathed in a stream. Men and women were kept separate, and they married whom they willed, the parents having no control in that particular. There was no formal vocational training. In good seasons the country produced grain, but if the harvest failed, they would make soup out of serpents and eat boiled elephant flesh.
All over the country the head of the family of greatest local consideration was termed "King of the Ravine", and the next in importance was called a "Notable". A market was held in the city of Three Rivers, on the first day of every moon, and another on the fifteenth. Goods were brought in and bartered.
In his own ravine, Meng Huo gathered his family and clan to the number of a thousand or more and addressed them: "I have been put to shame by the leaders of Shu many times, and I have sworn to take revenge for the insults. Has anyone any proposal to make?"
Thereupon a certain one replied, saying, "I can produce a man able to defeat Zhuge Liang."
The assembly turned to the speaker, who was a brother of Meng Huo's wife. He was the head of eight tribes of the Southern Mangs, and was named Chief Dai Lai.
"Who is the man?" asked Meng Huo.
Chief Dai Lai replied, "He is Mu Lu, King of the Bana Ravine. He is a master of witchcraft who can call up the wind and invoke the rain. He rides upon an elephant and is attended by tigers, leopards, wolves, venomous snakes, and scorpions. Beside, he has under his hand thirty thousand superhuman soldiers. He is very bold. O King, write him a letter and send him presents, which I will deliver. If he will consent to lend his aid, what fear have we of Shu?"
Meng Huo was pleased with the scheme and ordered Dai Lai to draft a letter. Then he ordered Duo Si to defend Three Rivers and make the first line of defense.
Zhuge Liang led his troops near the city of Three Rivers. Taking a survey of the country, he noted that the city was surrounded by the three rivers and could only be reached by a bank on one face, so he sent Wei Yan and Zhao Yun to march along the road and attack. But when they reached the rampart, they found it well defended by bows and crossbows.
The defenders of the city were adepts in the use of the crossbow, and they had one sort which discharged ten arrows at once. Furthermore, the arrows were poisoned, and a wound meant certain death. The two generals saw that they could not succeed, and so retired.
When Zhuge Liang heard of the poisoned arrows, he mounted his light chariot and went to see for himself. Having regarded the defenses, he returned to his camp and ordered a retirement of three miles. This move delighted the Mangs, who congratulated each other on their success in driving off the besiegers, who, as they concluded, had been frightened away. So they gave themselves up to rejoicing and kept no watch. Nor did they even send out scouts.
The army of Shu made a strong camp in their new halting place and closed the gates for defense. For five days they gave no sign. One evening, just at sunset, a slight breeze began to blow.
Then Zhuge Liang issued an order: "Every man should provide himself with a coat by the first watch. If anyone lacks, he will be put to death."
None of the generals knew what was in the wind, but the order was obeyed. Next, each man was ordered to fill his coat with earth. This order appeared equally strange, but it was carried out.
When all were ready, they were told: "You are to carry the earth to the foot of the city wall, and the first arrivals will be rewarded."
So they ran with all speed with the dry earth and reached the wall. Then with the earth they were ordered to make a raised way, and the first soldier on the wall was promised a reward.
The whole of the one hundred thousand troops of Shu, and their native allies, having thrown their burdens of earth near the wall, then quickly rushed up the incline, and with one great shout were on the wall. The archers on the wall were seized and dragged down. Those who got clear ran away into the city. King Duo Si was slain in the melee that followed on this attack. The soldiers of Shu moved through the city slaying all they met. Thus was the city captured and with it great booty of jewels, which were made over to the army as a reward for their prowess.
The few soldiers who escaped went away and told Meng Huo: "The city of Three Rivers was lost, and King Duo Si slain!"
Meng Huo was much distressed. Before he had recovered, they told him: "The army of Shu has come over and is encamped at the mouth of Silver Pit Ravine."
Just as he was in the very depths of distress, a laugh came from behind the screen.
A woman appeared, saying, "Though you are brave, how silly you are! Though I am a woman, but I want to go out and fight."
The woman was his wife, Lady Zhurong. She was a descendant of the Zhurong family of the Southern Mang. She was expert in the use of the flying sword and never missed her aim.
Meng Huo rose and bowed to her. Lady Zhurong thereupon mounted a horse and forthwith marched out at the head of a hundred generals, leading fifty thousand troops of the ravines, and set out to drive off the troops of Shu.
Just as the host got clear of the Silver Pit Palace, it was stopped by a cohort led by Zhang Ni. At once the Mangs deployed, and the lady leader armed herself with five swords such as she used. In one hand she held an eighteen-foot signal staff, and she sat a curly-haired, reddish horse.
Zhang Ni was secretly troubled at the sight before him, but he engaged the lady commander. After a few passes the lady turned her steed and bolted. Zhang Ni went after her, but a sword came flying through the air directly at him. He tried to fend off with one hand, but it wounded his arm, and he fell to the ground. The Mangs gave a loud shout; some of them pounced on the unlucky leader and made him prisoner.
Then Ma Zheng, hearing his comrade had been taken, rushed out to rescue, but only to be surrounded. He saw the lady commander holding up her staff and made a dash forward, but just then the Mangs threw hooks and pulled down his steed, and he was also a prisoner.
Both generals were taken into the ravine and led before the King. He gave a banquet in honor of his wife's success, and during the feast the lady bade the lictors put the two prisoners to death. They hustled the two generals in and were just going to carry out their orders when Meng Huo checked them.
"No; five times has Zhuge Liang set me at liberty. It would be unjust to put these to death. Confine them till we have taken their chief, then we may execute them."
His wife was merry with wine and did not object. So their lives were spared.
The defeated soldiers returned to their camp. Zhuge Liang took steps to retrieve the mishap by sending for Ma Dai, Zhao Yun, and Wei Yan, to each of whom he gave special and private orders.
Next day the Mang soldiers reported to the King that Zhao Yun was offering a challenge. Lady Zhurong forthwith mounted and rode out to battle. She engaged Zhao Yun, who soon fled. The lady was too prudent to risk pursuit, and rode home. Then Wei Yan repeated the challenge, and he also fled as if defeated. But again the lady declined to pursue. Next day Zhao Yun repeated his challenge and ran away as before. Lady Zhurong signaled no pursuit. But at this Wei Yan rode up and opened a volley of abuse and obloquy. This proved too much, and she gave the signal to go after him and led the way. Wei Yan increased his pace, and the lady commander doubled hers, and she and her followers pressed into a narrow road along a valley. Suddenly behind her was heard a noise, and Wei Yan, turning his head, saw the lady tumble out of her saddle.
She had rushed into an ambush prepared by Ma Dai: Her horse had been tripped up by ropes. She was captured, bound, and carried off to the Shu camp. Some of her people endeavored to rescue her, but they were driven off.
Zhuge Liang seated himself in his tent to see his prisoner, and Lady Zhurong was led up. He bade them remove her bonds, and she was conducted to another tent, where wine was laid before her. Then a message was sent to Meng Huo to say that she would be exchanged for the two captive leaders.
The King agreed, and Ma Zheng and Zhang Ni were set free. As soon as they arrived, the lady was escorted by Zhuge Liang himself to the mouth of the ravine, where Meng Huo welcomed her both gladly and angrily.
Then they told Meng Huo of the coming of the King of the Bana Ravine, and he went out to meet Mu Lu. Mu Lu rode up on his white elephant, dressed in silks, and with many gold and pearl ornaments. He wore a double sword at his belt, and he was followed by the motley pack of fighting animals that he fed, gamboling and dancing about him.
Meng Huo made him a low obeisance and then poured out his tale of woes. Mu Lu promised to avenge his wrongs and was led off to a banquet which had been prepared.
Next day the deliverer went out to battle, with his pack of wild creatures in his train. Zhao Yun and his colleague Wei Yan quickly made their array of footmen and then took their station in front side by side and studied their opponents. The Mang banners and weapons were all extraordinary. Most of the warriors wore no armor and none wore any clothing. Their faces were sunburned. They carried four sharp pointed knives in their belts. Signals were not given by drum or trumpet, but by a gong.
King Mu Lu had two swords in his belt and carried a hand bell. He urged his white elephant forward and emerged from between his flags.
"We have spent all our life in the battlefields, but we have never seen the like of this before," said Zhao Yun.
As they talked to one another, they noticed that the opposing leader was mumbling something that might be a spell or a curse, and from time to time he rang his bell. Then suddenly the wind got up, stones began to roll and sand to fly, and there was a sound as of a heavy shower of rain. Next a horn rang out, and thereupon the tigers and the leopards, and the wolves and the serpents, and all the other wild beasts came down on the wind snapping and clawing. How could the soldiers of Shu stand such a thing as that? So they retreated, and the Mangs came after them fiercely, chasing and slaying their enemies as far as the city of Three Rivers.
Zhao Yun and Wei Yan mustered their defeated troops and went to their leader to confess their failure. Zhuge Liang, however, was neither angry nor dejected.
"The fault is not yours," he said. "Long ago, when I was still in my rustic hut, I knew the Mangs possessed certain powers over beasts, and I provided against this adventure before we left Shu. You will find twenty big sealed carts in the baggage train. We will use half of them now."
He bade his staff bring forward ten of the red box-carts; the other ten black carts were left untouched. They all wondered what would happen. Then the carts were opened, and they turned out to be carved and colored models of huge wild beasts, with coats of worsted, teeth and claws of steel; each could accommodate ten people. Choosing one hundred beasts, he told off a thousand troops and bade them stuff the mouths of the beasts full of inflammables.
Next day the army of Shu marched out to the attack and were arrayed at the entrance to the Silver Pit Ravine. The Mang soldiers went into the ravine and told their king. Mu Lu, thinking himself perfectly invincible, did not hesitate, but marched out, taking Meng Huo with him. Zhuge Liang, dressed in the simple robe of a Taoist, went out in his light chariot. In his hand he held a feather fan. Meng Huo, who recognized his enemy, pointed him out to Mu Lu.
"That is Zhuge Liang in that small chariot. If we can only capture him, our task is done."
Then Mu Lu began to mutter his spells and to ring his bell. As before, the wind got up and blew with violence, and the wild beasts came on.
But at a wave of the simple feather fan, lo! the wind turned and blew the other way. Then from out of the host of Shu there burst the horrible wild beasts. The real wild beasts of the Mang saw rushing down upon them huge creatures, whose mouths vomited flames and whose nostrils breathed out black smoke. They came along with jingling bells, snapping and clawing, and the real beasts turned tail and fled in among the host of their own side, trampling them down as they sped. Zhuge Liang gave the signal for a general onset, and his troops rushed forward with beating drums and blaring trumpets. Mu Lu was killed in the melee. Meng Huo's whole clan fled in panic and tore up among the hills out of the way. And thus the Silver Pit Ravine was taken.
Next day, as Zhuge Liang was telling off parties to search for and capture the King, it was announced that the brother-in-law of Meng Huo, Chief Dai Lai, having vainly tried to persuade the King to yield, had made prisoners of him and his wife and all his clan and were bringing them to Zhuge Liang.
Hearing this, Zhang Ni and Ma Zheng were called and received certain orders, upon which they hid themselves in the wings of the tent with a large body of sturdy warriors. This done, Zhuge Liang ordered the keepers to open the gates, and in came Chief Dai Lai with Meng Huo and his people in custody.
As Dai Lai bowed at the entrance of the hall, Zhuge Liang called out, "Let my strong captors appear!"
At once out came the hidden men, and every two of them laid hands upon a prisoner and bound him.
"Did you think your paltry ruse would deceive me?" said Zhuge Liang. "Here you are a second time captured by your own people and brought before me that you might surrender. The first time I did not hurt you. But now I firmly believe this surrender is part of a plot to kill me."
Then he called out to his guards to search the prisoners. They did so, and on every man they found a sharp knife.
"Did you not say that if your family were taken prisoners you would yield? How now?" said Zhuge Liang.
"We have come of our own will and at the risk of our lives. The credit is not yours. Still I refuse to yield," replied Meng Huo.
"This is the sixth time I have captured you, and yet you are obstinate. What do you expect?"
"If you take me a seventh time, then I will turn to you and never rebel again."
"Well, your stronghold is now destroyed. What have I to fear?" said Zhuge Liang.
He ordered the bonds to be loosed, saying, "If you are caught again and lie to me once more, I shall certainly not be inclined to let you off."
Meng Huo and his people put their hands over their heads and ran off like rats.
The defeated Mangs who had fled were of thousands, and more than half of them were wounded. They fell in with their King, who restored what order was possible and felt glad that he had still some leaders left. Then he and the Chief Dai Lai took counsel together.
"Whither can we go?" said Meng Huo. "Our stronghold is in the hands of the enemy."
Dai Lai replied, "There is but one country that can overcome these troops. That is the Wuguo Kingdom. It lies two hundred miles to the southeast. The King of that state is named Wutu Gu. He is a giant of twelve spans. He does not eat grain, but lives on serpents and venomous beasts. He wears scaly armor, which is impenetrable to swords and arrows. His warriors wear rattan armor. This rattan grows in gullies, climbing over rocks and walls. The inhabitants cut the rattans and steep them in oil for half a year. Then they are dried in the sun. When dry they are steeped again, and so on many times. Then they are plaited into helmets and armor. Clad in this, the men float across rivers, and it does not get wet. No weapon can penetrate it. The soldiers are called the Rattan Army. You may seek aid from this king, and with his help you can take Zhuge Liang as easily as a sharp knife cleaves a bamboo."
Meng Huo went to the Wuguo Kingdom and saw the King. The people of this country do not live in houses, but dwell in caves. Meng Huo told the story of his woes.
And King Wutu Gu said, "I shall muster all my men to avenge you."
Meng Huo bowed low and expressed great gratitude.
Wutu Gu called up two generals named Xi Ni and Tu An and gave them thirty thousand of the rattan-armored soldiers and bade them march northeast.
They came to a river called the River of Peach Flowers, on both banks of which grow many peach trees. Year after year the leaves of these trees fall into the river and render it poisonous to all but the natives. But to the natives it is a stimulant which doubles their vigor. They camped on the bank of this river to await the coming of the army of Shu.
Now Zhuge Liang was informed of the journey of Meng Huo and its results, and he knew when the rattan-clad army camped at the ford. He also knew that Meng Huo had collected all the soldiers of his own that he could help. Zhuge Liang at once marched to the ford. He questioned the natives, and they told him that the peach leaves were falling and the water of the river was undrinkable. So he retired two miles and camped. Only Wei Yan was left to hold the bank of the River of Peach Flowers.
Next day Wutu Gu led the Wuguo warriors across the stream, and, with a rolling of drums, Wei Yan went out to meet them. The Wuguo men poured forth. The soldiers of Shu shot at them, but neither arrows nor bolts penetrated their armors; they rolled off harmless. Nor could swords cut or spears enter. The enemy, thus protected and armed with big swords and prongs, were too much for the troops of Shu, who had to run away. However, they were not pursued. When, on the retreat, they came to the Peach Flowers Ford, they saw the Mangs crossing as if walking on the water. Some of them were tired, so they took off their rattan breastplates, sat upon them and floated to the other side.
When Zhuge Liang heard the report of his general, he summoned Lu Kai and called in some natives.
Lu Kai said, "I have heard of the Wuguo Kingdom as perfectly tribal among the Mang nations. I have also heard of the rattan armor, which can withstand all thrusts, and the harmful River of Peach Flowers. The Southern Mangs are so untameable that victory will mean little. We would rather retreat."
"No, no," said Zhuge Liang merrily, "we have had too much difficulty in getting here to go back so easily. I shall have a counter-plan for these people tomorrow."
Having provided for the defense of his camp, he gave strict orders to his generals not to go out to fight, Zhuge Liang went to reconnoiter. He rode in his light chariot with a few natives as guides. He came to the ford, and from a secluded spot in the mountains on the north bank, he looked about him.
The whole country was mountainous and difficult, impassable for any carriage. So he got out and went afoot. Presently, from a hill he saw a long winding valley, like a huge serpent. The sides were very precipitous and bare. However, a road ran through the middle.
"What is the name of the valley?" asked Zhuge Liang.
"It is called 'Coiled Serpent Valley'," said the guides. "At the other end you come into the high road to Three Rivers. The road goes by a valley called 'Talang See'."
"The very thing," said Zhuge Liang gladly. "Surely this is providence. I shall score a great success here."
Having seen enough, he retraced his steps, found his chariot, and returned to camp. Arrived at the camp, Ma Dai was called and put in charge of the preparations.
Zhuge Liang gave him an order: "I will give you the ten black painted carts, and you are to get a thousand long bamboo poles. Open the carts, and follow my instructions there. Then you are to keep the two ends of the Coiled Serpent Valley. Half a month is the deadline, and all of these must be performed with the most perfect secrecy under military law and punishment."
Next Zhao Yun was sent to a point on the Three Rivers road; Wei Yan to camp at the Peach Flowers Ford.
Zhuge Liang told Wei Yan, "If the Mangs come over the river, you are to abandon the camp and march toward a certain white flag you will see. Further, in half a month you would have to acknowledge defeat some fifteen times and abandon seven camps. On no account are you to come to interview me even after fourteen defeats."
Wei Yan went off, not a little hipped at the prospect, but prepared to obey. Next, Zhang Yi was sent to make a stockade at a certain indicated point, and Zhang Ni and Ma Zheng was told to lead the Mang soldiers who had surrendered, and other orders were given.
Meng Huo had begun to have a real terror of Zhuge Liang, and he warned King Wutu Gu of Wuguo, saying, "This Zhuge Liang is exceedingly crafty. Ambush is one of his favorite ruses, so you should warn your soldiers that on no account should they enter a valley where the trees are thick."
"Great King, you speak with reason," said Wutu Gu. "I have always heard that the people of the Middle Kingdom are full of wiles, and I will see that your advice is followed. I will go in front to fight, and you may remain in the rear to give orders."
Presently the scouts told them of the arrival of the troops of Shu on the bank of the Peach Flowers River. Wutu Gu sent his two generals---Xi Ni and Tu An---to cross the river and engage them. The two sides met, but Wei Yan soon suffered a defeat and left the field. The Mangs were afraid to pursue as they dreaded an ambush.
In the meantime, Wei Yan laid out another camp. The Mangs crossed the river in greater force. Wei Yan came out to meet them, but again fled after a very short fight. This time the Mangs pursued, but having lost their hold of the enemy after three miles, and coming then to the late camp of the Shu army, which seemed quite safe, they occupied it.
Next day Xi Ni and Tu An asked their King Wutu Gu to come to the camp, and they reported what had happened. Wutu Gu decided to make a general advance to drive the troops of Shu before him. They fled, even casting aside their breastplates and throwing away their arms; they were in such haste to flee. And the troops of Shu went toward a white flag that appeared in the distance. They found a camp already made, which they occupied.
Soon, however, Wutu Gu came near, and as he pressed forward Wei Yan abandoned this camp and fled. When the Mangs reached the camp, they took up quarters therein.
Soon after they set out to renew the pursuit, but Wei Yan turned back and checked them. This was only a temporary check, for he fled after three encounters, going toward a white flag in the distance.
This sort of thing continued daily until the soldiers of Shu had been defeated and driven out of the field fifteen times and had abandoned their camp on seven different occasions.
The Mangs were now hot in pursuit and pressed on with all their might, Wutu Gu being in the forefront of the pursuers. But then they came to a thick umbrageous wood, and he halted, for he saw flags moving about behind the sheltering trees.
"Just as you foretold," said Wutu Gu to Meng Huo. "The men of Shu like using ambush."
"Yes; Zhuge Liang is going to be worsted this time. We have beaten off his troops now daily for half a month and won fifteen successive victories. His troops simply run when they hear the wind. The fact is he has exhausted all his craft and has tried every ruse. Now our task is nearly done."
Wutu Gu was greatly cheered and began to feel contempt for his enemy.
The sixteenth day of the long fight found Wei Yan leading his oft-defeated troops once more against the rattan-protected foe. King Wutu Gu on his white elephant was well in the forefront. He had on a cap with symbols of the sun and moon and streamers of wolf's beard, a fringed garment studded with gems, which allowed the plates or scales of his cuirass to appear, and his eyes seemed to flash fire. He pointed the finger of scorn at Wei Yan and began to revile him.
Wei Yan whipped up his steed and fled. The Mangs pressed after him. Wei Yan made for the Coiled Serpent Valley, for he saw a white flag calling him thither. Wutu Gu followed in hot haste, and as he saw only bare hills without a sign of vegetation, he felt quite confident that no ambush was laid. So he followed into the valley. There he saw some score of black painted carts in the road.
The soldiers said to each other, "The carts must be the commissariat wagons of the enemy, abandoned in their hasty flight when they heard of the coming of Your Majesty."
This only urged the King to greater speed, and he went on toward the other mouth of the valley, for the soldiers of Shu had disappeared. However, he saw piles of timber being tumbled down across the track and great boulders rolled down the hill side into the road. The pursuers cleared away the obstacles. When they had done so and advanced a little, they saw certain wheeled vehicles in the road, some large, some small, laden with wood and straw, which was burning. Wutu Gu was suddenly frightened and ordered a retreat.
But he heard much shouting in the rear, and they told him: "The exit has been blocked with wood-laden carts, which on being broken open are found to contain explosive, and they are all on fire."
However, seeing that the valley was barren and devoid of grass and wood, Wutu Gu was not in the least alarmed and merely bade his soldiers search for a way round.
Then he saw torches being hurled down the mountain side. These torches rolled till they came to a certain spot, where they ignited the fuses leading to the powder. Then the ground suddenly heaved with the explosion of bombs beneath. The whole valley was soon full of flames, darting and playing in all directions, and wherever they met with rattan armor the rattan caught fire, and thus the whole army, huddled and crowded together, burned in the midst of the valley.
Zhuge Liang looked on from the heights above and saw the Mangs burned. Many of the dead had been mangled and torn by the explosions of the mines. The air was full of suffocating vapor.
Zhuge Liang's tears fell fast as he saw the slaughter, and he sighed, saying, "Though I am rendering great service to my country, yet I have sacrificed many lives. My life shall be shortened for this."
Those who were with him were also deeply affected.
King Meng Huo was in his camp awaiting news of success when he saw a crowd of Mang soldiers come along, and they bowed before him and told him, "King Wutu Gu is fighting a great battle and is about to surround Zhuge Liang in the Valley of the Coiled Serpent. But he needs help. We are the natives of the local ravines, and we ourselves had no alternative when we yielded to Shu. But now we have returned to your allegiance and are willing to come to help Your Majesty."
So Meng Huo placed himself at the head of his clansmen and those who had just come to him, and lost no time in marching out. He bade them lead him to the spot. But when he reached the valley and saw the destruction, he knew he had been made a victim again. As he made to retire, there appeared a body of his enemy on each side under Zhang Ni and Ma Zheng, and they began to attack. Meng Huo was making what stand he could when a great shouting arose. The Mangs were nearly all disguised soldiers of Shu, and they quickly surrounded him and his clansmen to make them prisoners.
Meng Huo galloped clear and got into the hills. Presently he fell upon a small chariot, with a few guards about it, and therein sat Zhuge Liang, simply dressed and holding a fan.
"What now, rebel Meng Huo?" cried Zhuge Liang.
But Meng Huo had galloped away. He was soon stopped by Ma Dai and lay a helpless prisoner bound hand and foot. His wife, Lady Zhurong, and the other members of his family were also taken.
Zhuge Liang returned to camp and seated himself in the high place in his own tent. He was still sad at the thought of the sacrifice of life.
He said to his officers, "There was no help for it; I had to use that plan. But it has sadly injured my inner virtue. Guessing that the enemy would suspect an ambush in every thicket, I sent people to walk about in wooded places with flags. Really there was no ambush. I bade Wei Yan lose battle after battle just to lead the enemy on and harden their hearts. When I saw the Valley of the Coiled Serpent, with its bare sides of smooth rock and the road in its depths, I recognized what could be done and sent Ma Dai to arrange the contents of the black carts, the mines, which I had prepared long ago for this purpose. In every bomb were nine others, and they were buried thirty paces apart. They were connected by fuses laid in hollow bamboos that they might explode in succession, and the force was enormous. Zhao Yun prepared those carts laden with straw and rolled down the piles of timber and boulders that blocked the mouth. Wei Yan led Wutu Gu on and on till he had enticed the King into the valley, when he took up a position to escape. Then the burning began. They say that what is good for water is not much good for fire, and the oil-soaked rattan, excellent as a protection against swords and arrows, was most inflammable, catching fire at sight. The Mangs were so stubborn that the only way was to use fire, or we should never have scored a victory. But I much regret that the destruction of the people of Wuguo has been so complete. Heaven shall not overlook this crime."
The officers were deeply moved.
Then Meng Huo was summoned. He appeared and fell upon his knees. His limbs were freed from the bonds, and he was sent into a side tent for refreshment. The chief prisoners were Meng Huo, Lady Zhurong, Meng You, and Dai Lai. There were many of his clan as well.
As they were eating and drinking, a messenger appeared in the door of the tent and addressed the King: "The Prime Minister is ashamed and does not wish to see you again, Sir. He has sent me to release you. You may enlist another army if you can and once more try a decisive battle. Now you may go."
But instead of going Meng Huo began to weep.
"Seven times a captive and seven times released!" said the King. "Surely there was never anything like it in the whole world. I am not entirely devoid of a sense of propriety and rectitude. Does he think that I feel no shame?"
Thereupon he and all his followers fell upon their knees and crawled to the tent of the Commander-in-Chief and begged pardon, saying, "O Minister, you are the majesty of Heaven. We people of the south will offer no more opposition."
"Then you yield?" said Zhuge Liang, sighing.
"I and my children and grandchildren are deeply affected by your all-pervading and life-giving mercy. Now how can we not yield?"
Zhuge Liang asked Meng Huo to come up into the tent and be seated, and he prepared a banquet of felicitation. Also he confirmed Meng Huo in his kingship and restored all the places that had been captured. Everyone was overwhelmed with Zhuge Liang's generosity, and they all went away rejoicing. A poem has praised Zhuge Liang's action:
High Counselor Fei Yi ventured to remonstrate with Zhuge Liang on his policy.
He said, "You, O Minister, have led the army this long journey into the wilds and have reduced the Mang country, and have brought about the submission of the king. Why not appoint officials to share in the administration and hold the land?"
Zhuge Liang replied, "There are three difficulties. To leave foreigners implies leaving a guard for them: There is the difficulty of feeding the guard. The Mangs have lost many of their relatives. To leave foreigners without the guard will invite a calamity: This is the second difficulty. Among the Mangs, dethronements and murders are frequent, and there will be enmities and suspicions. Foreigners and they will be mutually distrustful: This is the third difficulty. If I do not leave our people, I shall not have to send supplies, which makes for peace and freedom from trouble."
They had to agree that the policy was wise.
The kindness of the conqueror was rewarded by the gratitude of these southern people, and they even erected a shrine in his honor, where they sacrificed at the four seasons. As Zhuge Liang and Meng Huo declared peace, the joy spread to all ravines and villages. And the people sent gifts of jewels, cinnabar, lacquer, medicines, plowing cattle, and chargers for the use of the army. And they pledged themselves not to rebel.
When the feastings to the soldiers were finished, the army marched homeward to Shu. Wei Yan was in command of the advanced column. He marched to the River Lu. But on his arrival the clouds gathered and a gale blew over the face of the waters. Because of the force of the gale, the army could not advance. Wei Yan then returned and reported the matter to his chief. Zhuge Liang called in Meng Huo to ask what this might mean.
The next chapter will contain Meng Huo's explanation.
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