A forged imperial edict is issued: all towns respond to Lord Cao; breaking through the soldiers at the pass: three heroes battle Lü Bu.
Let us now turn to Chen Gong, who was about to kill Cao Cao; he suddenly had a change of heart, thinking, "I followed him to this place for the sake of the country; killing him would be immoral. It would be better if I just left him here, and went somewhere else." He returned his straight sword to its scabbard, and mounted his horse. Not waiting until daylight, he headed to Dong Commandery by himself. When Cao awoke, he did not see Chen Gong, and thought, "This guy heard me say a couple of things, suspected me of being inhumane, and left me here. I should go at once; I cannot stay for long." He then went to Chenliu that same evening, looked for his father, and told him the whole story. He wanted to use his family's financial resources to enlist conscript soldiers. His father said, "We have limited means, and I'm afraid that we will not succeed. There is a local government official who received his post based on his record of filial piety and honesty, whose name is Wei Hong. He has shown a willingness to disperse money in order to uphold justice, and his family is super wealthy. If we can get him to help out, we could make it work."
Cao arranged for a banquet, and then invited Wei Hong to his house. He told him, "Today, the House of Han is without a ruler and Dong Zhuo has seized power. He is committing fraud against the emperor and causing harm to the people; everyone in the nation is gnashing their teeth in frustration. I would like to use my strength to help the country, but I regret that my strength alone is insufficient. You are a loyal servant of the empire; I boldly ask for your help." Wei Hong said, "I have been of this mind for quite some time, but regret that I have not yet found any heroes. If you are really determined, Mengde, I am willing to help out by making my family's financial resources available to you." Cao was overjoyed; he then issued a forged imperial edict, which was carried at top speed along every byway. Later, when he was gathering conscript soldiers, he planted a white recruitment banner with the words "loyalty to the empire" written on it. After not more than a few days, he had raised a massive volunteer army. They were lined up side by side, each man like a tiny drop of rain in a great storm.
One day, a man from the Kingdom of Wei in Yangping Commandery offered his service to Cao Cao; his surname was Yue, his given name was Jin, and his style name was Wenqian. Another man, from Juye in Shanyang Commandery, also offered his service to Cao Cao; his surname was Li, his given name was Dian, and his style name was Mancheng. Cao kept them both as field generals. There was also a man from Qiao in the State of Pei; his name was Xiahou Dun, and his style name was Yuanrang; he was a descendant of Xiahou Ying. He had trained with the spear and staff since he was little. When he was fourteen, he found a teacher, and began his formal training in the military arts. A person had insulted his teacher, so Dun killed him and fled the area. When he heard that Cao Cao was raising an army, he and his younger kinsman, Xiahou Yuan, each came with one thousand fierce warriors. These two men were originally kinsmen of Cao's. Cao's father Cao Song was originally a son of the Xiahou clan, adopted into the Cao family; because of this, they were kinsmen.
After not more than a few days, two other members of the Cao family, Cao Ren and Cao Hong, lent their assistance by each leading more than a thousand troops. Cao Ren's style name was Zixiao, and Cao Hong's style name was Zilian. The two of them were highly skilled in warfare, and proficient in all of the military arts. Cao was overjoyed, and began training the soldiers and cavalry right there within the village. Wei Hong used a considerable amount of his family's financial resources to purchase body armor and banners. Provisions came from all over, in numbers too great to count.
When Yuan Shao obtained the forged imperial edict, he gathered everyone under his command, both military and civilian alike. He led a total of 30,000 soldiers from Bohai to meet up with Cao Cao and form an alliance. Cao drafted an official call to arms, which was to be sent to all of the commanderies. The call to arms read:
Cao and his associates, solely in the interest of justice, do hereby declare before all under heaven: Dong Zhuo has deceived the gods of heaven and earth, destroyed our nation and murdered our emperor; he has defiled the palace, and caused harm to the citizenry; he is as savage as a wolf, and inhumane as well; his crimes have piled up! Today, we abide by a secret decree from the emperor. We have conscripted a large army, and pledge to rid the land of Huaxia of this evil; we shall exterminate this pack of murderers. We have raised an army which seeks to uphold justice, and give vent to the public's outrage. We shall support the imperial household, and save the common people. This official call to arms is effective immediately upon receipt.
Once Cao issued the official call to arms, the nobles from each of the garrisons all raised armies in response:
1st garrison: Yuan Shu, governor of Nanyang Commandery, General of the Rear.
2nd garrison: Han Fu, governor of Jizhou Province.
3rd garrison: Kong Zhou, governor of Yuzhou Province.
4th garrison: Liu Dai, governor of Yanzhou Province.
5th garrison: Wang Kuang, governor of Henei Commandery.
6th garrison: Zhang Miao, governor of Chenliu Commandery.
7th garrison: Qiao Mao, governor of Dong Commandery.
8th garrison: Yuan Yi, governor of Shanyang Commandery.
9th garrison: Bao Xin, chief minister of the Kingdom of Jibei.
10th garrison: Kong Rong, governor of Beihai Commandery.
11th garrison: Zhang Chao, governor of Guangling Commandery.
12th garrison: Tao Qian, governor of Xuzhou Province.
13th garrison: Ma Teng, governor of Xiliang Commandery.
14th garrison: Gongsun Zan, governor of Beiping Commandery.
15th garrison: Zhang Yang, governor of Shangdang Commandery.
16th garrison: Sun Jian, governor of Changsha Commandery, Marquis of Wucheng.
17th garrison: Yuan Shao, governor of Bohai Commandery, Marquis of Qixiang.
All of these forces, which varied in size from thirty thousand to ten or twenty thousand, and which were led by either civil officials or military generals, converged on Luoyang.
Let us now turn to Gongsun Zan, governor of Beiping Commandery, who was leading an army of fifteen thousand elite troops past Pingyuan County in Dezhou. While they were on the move, they spotted yellow banners near a clump of mulberry trees; it was a group of men approaching on horseback. Zan saw that it was Liu Xuande. Zan asked, "It is my junior colleague, why are you here?" Xuande replied, "A while back, you saw to it that I was made governor of Pingyuan County; when I heard that a large army was passing by here, I came out especially to await your arrival so that I could invite my benefactor to come into town and rest his horses." Zan pointed to Guan and Zhang, and asked, "Who are these two?" Xuande said, "This is Guan Yu and this is Zhang Fei; they are my sworn brothers." Zan said, "Are these the same men who crushed the Yellow Turbans?" Xuande said, "It was all thanks to the efforts of these two men." Zan said, "What posts do they now hold?" Xuande replied, "Guan Yu is a cavalry archer, and Zhang Fei is an infantry archer." Zan sighed, saying, "If that is the case, one might say that these two heroes have been neglected! Dong Zhuo is now causing unrest, and all of the nobles are on their way to take him down. You should abandon this lowly post, come with me to punish this bandit rebel, and help the House of Han; what do you think?" Xuande said, "I would like to go." Zhang Fei said, "If you had let me kill that scoundrel the last time, this wouldn't have happened." Yunchang said, "What's done is done; we should gather up our things and go."
Xuande, Guan and Zhang led a number of people on horseback, and followed behind Gongsun Zan. Cao Cao welcomed them as a steady stream of nobles were also arriving. Each army set up their own camp, in a string of camps that stretched more than 200 li. Cao slaughtered a bull and a horse, then convened all of the nobles to discuss plans for a military advance. Commandery governor Wang Kuang said, "Today, we come together for the sake of justice. We must decide on a leader for our alliance, and everyone must abide by that decision, before we can advance our armies." Cao said, "Members of Yuan Benchu's family have occupied the highest positions within the government for four generations, and he has a lot of students and former subordinates. He is the descendent of a famous chancellor of the Han Dynasty; he should be the leader of our alliance." Shao repeatedly declined the offer. Only after everyone said, "It can be none other than Benchu." did Shao finally agree to do it. The following day, a three-level platform was erected. The banners of the five directions were placed in rows along each side; a white banner, with a yak tail on top of its pole, and a gilded battle-ax were both placed on the platform. Military papers and the seal of a military general were placed on the platform as well. Shao was asked to ascend the platform. Shao straightened his clothes, put on his straight sword, and solemnly climbed up. He burned incense and performed the ritual obeisance. The creed of the alliance read:
The House of Han has encountered misfortune, and the system of imperial rule has been corrupted. The traitor Dong Zhuo has seized the opportunity to wantonly cause destruction, bring disaster to the emperor, and inflict cruelty upon the people. Shao and his associates, fearing that the nation will be lost, have assembled conscript soldiers in order to deal with this national calamity. All who enter into our alliance shall work with one purpose, maintain the moral integrity of a court official, and shall not have second thoughts. Anyone who violates this alliance shall be put to death, and shall not be allowed to have descendants. The gods of heaven and earth, and the ancestral spirits, shall all bear witness to the above.
After they finished reading the creed, they smeared their mouths with blood. Because of the impassioned tone of the wording, they were all weeping uncontrollably. Having smeared their mouths with blood, they now came down from the raised platform. They all escorted Shao into the planning tent. They separated into two rows and took their seats according to noble rank, official position and age. Cao made several toasts, then said, "Now that we have a leader for our alliance, each must proceed to where they are assigned; we must all help out our nation, regardless of whether we are strong or weak." Yuan Shao said, "I am not a talented man. However, I have been nominated to be the leader of this alliance. Therefore, those among us who meet with success shall be rewarded; those among us who commit an offense shall be punished. Our country has its penal system, and our army has its system of discipline. Each of you should abide by the two; we must not permit infractions." Everyone said, "We swear on our lives that we will not fail you." Shao said, "My younger brother Yuan Shu shall oversee provisions. He will deal with all of the camps and make sure that there are no shortages. More importantly, we need someone to take point, proceed directly to Sishui Pass, and pick a fight. The rest of you shall each take up a position in a strategic location, so that you can respond to the enemy's advance."
Sun Jian, governor of Changsha Commandery, said, "I would like to be in the advance force." Shao said, "You are brave and fierce, Wentai; you may have this mission." Jian then led the main force toward Sishui Pass. The soldiers who were guarding the pass sent someone on a fast horse to the chancellor's residence in Luoyang to report the emergency. Dong Zhuo had been throwing lavish banquets everyday since assuming power. After receiving the emergency communiqué, Li Ru went straight to Zhuo and gave him the letter. Zhuo was shocked, and immediately convened all of his generals to discuss the matter. Marquis of Wen Lü Bu stood up and said, "Don't worry father. The nobles beyond the pass are as insignificant as mustard seeds. I would like to have my division of crack troops chop off each of their heads, and hang them on the gates of the capital." Zhuo was overjoyed, saying, "I have Fengxian, so I can rest easy!"
He had not yet finished speaking, when a person standing behind Lü Bu said loudly, "'Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?' We shouldn't trouble the Marquis of Wen to go personally. Cutting off the heads of all of the nobles would be as easy for me as taking something out of my pocket." Zhuo took a look at the man, who stood at a height of nine chi, had a tiger-like torso, a wolf-like waist, a panther-like head, and ape-like arms; he was from the area to the west of Hangu Pass. His surname was Hua, and his given name was Xiong. Upon hearing this, Zhuo was overjoyed. He made him captain of armed cavalry, and allotted him 50,000 horses and men. He set out to meet the enemy, traveling all night, accompanied by Li Su, Hu Zhen and Zhao Cen. One of the nobles was Bao Xin, chief minister of the Kingdom of Jibei. He thought about the fact that Sun Jian had taken point, and was afraid that he would get all the glory, so he secretly sent his younger brother Bao Zhong ahead with a contingent of 3,000 men and horses on a side road in order to pick a fight at the pass. Hua Xiong quickly led a force of 500 armored cavalry down from the pass, shouting, "Halt, you bandit rebels!" Bao Zhong rapidly retreated, but was cut down from his horse by Hua Xiong with one stroke of the sword. A large number of military officers were captured alive. Hua Xiong sent someone to take Bao Zhong's head to the residence of the chancellor, and to report news of their victory. Zhuo made Xiong a provincial military commander.
Let us now turn to Sun Jian, who led his four generals to the entrance of the pass. As for the four generals: the first one was from Tuyin in Youbeiping Commandery, his surname was Cheng, his given name was Pu, his style name was Demou, and his weapon of choice was an iron-ridge snake lance. The second one's surname was Huang, his given name was Gai, his style name was Gongfu, he was from Lingling Commandery, and his weapon of choice was an iron whip. The third one's surname was Han, his given name was Dang, his style name was Yigong, he was from Lingzhi in Liaoxi Commandery, and his weapon of choice was a large broadsword. The fourth one's surname was Zu, his given name was Mao, his style name was Darong, he was from Fuchun in Wu Commandery, and his weapons of choice were a pair of broadswords. Sun Jian wore shiny armor that sparkled like silver, fastened a red kerchief around his head, carried a Guding broadsword, and rode a horse with a multi-colored mane. He pointed to the top of the pass, and cursed, "All of you commoners who are aiding villainy: why not surrender early!"
Hu Zhen, Hua Xiong's second in command, led a force of 5,000 men out of the pass to join in the battle. Cheng Pu raised his lance and galloped his horse at full speed toward Hu Zhen. After several bouts, Cheng Pu stabbed Hu Zhen in the throat, which caused him to die at the foot of his horse. Jian led his army on a frontal assault of the pass amidst a hail of arrows and rocks. Sun Jian then led his troops back to the east of the ridge, and dug in. He sent someone to Yuan Shao's location to report a victory, and then to Yuan Shu's location to requisition provisions. Someone told Shu, "Sun Jian is known as the fierce tiger from the eastern bank of the Yangtze. If he smashes Luoyang and kills Dong Zhuo, it will be as though we have replaced a wolf with a tiger. If we don't give him any provisions now, his army will disperse for sure." Shu heeded this advice, and did not release any rations. Sun Jian's army went without food, and dissention sprang up within the ranks. A spy reported all of this to the forces on top of the pass. Li Su schemed with Hua Xiong, saying, "Tonight, I will lead an army down from the pass on a side trail, and attack Sun Jian from the rear of his encampment. If you attack the front of his encampment, Jian can be captured."
Xiong did as he was told. He relayed orders for his troops to eat their fill, so that they could take advantage of the night to descend from the pass. On this night, the moon was bright and the air was crisp. It was midnight by the time they arrived at Jian's stronghold. They sounded the drums and charged directly at them. Jian hastily donned his armor and got on his horse, just in time to encounter Hua Xiong. The two horses met, and they fought several bouts. Just then, Li Su's forces arrived in the rear, and gave the order to set fires. Jian's army scattered. It was every man for himself, and only Zu Mao was able to break through the lines and flee with Sun Jian. Hua Xiong was following right behind them. Jian took out his arrows and shot two in a row, but Hua Xiong dodged them both. When he went to fire the third arrow, he used too much force, and snapped his magpie-decorated bow in two. He had no choice but to throw away his bow and gallop away on his horse. Zu Mao said, "My lord, you are wearing that red headband, which makes you a target. It is the reason the bandits can recognize you. Why don't you take it off and give it to me to wear?" Jian removed the headband and gave it to Mao, who tied it around his helmet. They then parted ways. Xiong's army only followed the one wearing the red headband. Jian was thus able to escape via a small side road. Zu Mao was being chased by Hua Xiong, so he stuck the headband onto the unburnt pole of a house, and hid in the woods.
In the moonlight, Hua Xiong's army could see the red headband in the distance. They surrounded it on all four sides, but did not dare advance. It was not until they shot at it with arrows that they realized that it was a ruse and moved forward to take down the red headband. Zu Mao charged out of the woods, with both swords drawn, in an attempt to cut down Hua Xiong. Xiong let out a yell, and cut Zu Mao down from his horse. The slaughter continued until daybreak before Xiong led his troops back up the pass. Cheng Pu, Huang Gai and Han Dang all came to find Sun Jian, then they gathered up their troops and set up camp. Jian was beside himself with grief over the death of Zu Mao. He dispatched someone to travel through the night to report to Yuan Shao. Shao was shocked, saying, "I would not have imagined that Sun Wentai could have been defeated at the hands of Hua Xiong!" He then gathered together all of the nobles to discuss the matter. Everyone had arrived, with the exception of Gongsun Zan, who came late. Shao invited them to come into his tent and sit according to rank. Shao said, "The other day, General Bao's younger brother did not go where he was assigned, and took it upon himself to advance. As a result, he was killed along with many of his soldiers; and now, Sun Wentai has been defeated by Hua Xiong. These are huge setbacks for us, what shall we do?" None of the nobles said anything.
Shao looked up and fixed his gaze on the three men standing behind Gongsun Zan. They had an unusual appearance, and were all sneering. Shao asked, "Who are the people behind Commandery governor Gongsun?" Zan bade Xuande to step up, then said, "This is a colleague that I have known since childhood. His name is Liu Bei, and he is from Pingyuan County." Cao Cao said, "Isn't this the same Liu Xuande who smashed the Yellow Turbans?" Zan said, "It is." Then he ordered Liu Xuande to come pay his respects. Zan explained in detail Xuande's deeds and his background. Shao said, "Seeing as how you are a member of the house of Han, come take a seat." Thus, he ordered him to sit. Bei humbly declined. Shao said, "I am not honoring your deeds or your noble rank, but rather the fact that you are a descendant of the imperial household." With that, Xuande sat in the last and most inferior position. Guan and Zhang stood in attendance behind him, their hands respectfully clasped in front of their chests.
Suddenly, a scout came with a report, "Hua Xiong has led armored cavalry down the pass, and was waving Commandery governor Sun's red headband on the end of a long bamboo pole. He came to the front of our stronghold, cursing and challenging us to fight." Shao said, "Who will dare to go out and fight?" The brave general named Yu She came out from behind Yuan Shu, saying, "I would like to go." Shao was pleased, and instructed Yu She to head out. A report immediately came back, "Yu She had gone for no more than three bouts with Hua Xiong before he was cut down by Hua Xiong." Everyone was shocked. Commandery governor Han Fu said, "A general of mine named Pan Feng can cut down Hua Xiong." Shao immediately ordered him into battle. Pan Feng held a large battle ax as he mounted his horse. After he was gone for not that long, someone came galloping back with a report, "Pan Feng was also cut down by Hua Xiong." Everyone was crestfallen. Shao said, "It is a shame that my two generals, Yan Liang and Wen Chou, are not here! If either one of them were here, what reason would there be for us fear Hua Xiong!"
He had not yet finished what he was saying, before a person at the foot of the raised platform exclaimed loudly, "I am willing to go and cut off Hua Xiong's head, and present it to the people in this tent!" Everyone looked at him! They saw that he stood at a height of nine chi, and had a two chi long beard; his eyes were like that of a crimson phoenix, and his eyebrows resembled reclining silkworms; his face was the color of a dark jujube, and he had a voice that rang out like a giant bell. He was standing near the entrance of the tent. Shao asked who he was. Gongsun Zan said, "This is Guan Yu, a junior associate of Liu Xuande." Shao asked what position he currently occupied. Zan said, "He is a cavalry archer for Liu Xuande." From the raised platform inside the tent, Yuan Shu bellowed, "Are you falsely implying that we nobles lack any great generals? Seeing as you're nothing but an archer, how dare you make such outlandish statements! Let me kick him out!" Cao Cao rushed to stop him, saying, "Gonglu, calm down. For this person to make such grandiose statements, he must be brave and cunning. Why not try sending him out. If he doesn't win, it won't yet be too late." Yuan Shao said, "But if we send an archer out to fight, Hua Xiong will laugh at him for sure." Cao said, "This man has a striking appearance, how will Hua Xiong know that he is an archer?" Lord Guan said, "If I don't win, please cut off my head."
Cao called for a cup of warm wine to be poured, which he gave to Lord Guan as Lord Guan was mounting his horse. Lord Guan said, "Go ahead and pour the wine, I will be right back." He exited the tent, took a hold of his blade, then leaped onto his horse. All of the nobles were listening to the great ruckus of drums and yelling from beyond the pass. It sounded like the sky was being torn apart, the earth was caving in, and the mountains were collapsing. Everyone was startled. Just as they thought of going out to see what was happening, they heard the sound of horse bells. A horse arrived at the Army of the Center. It was Yunchang; he took Hua Xiong's head and threw it on the ground. The wine was still warm. People of later generations wrote a poem in praise of him, which went:
When it came to using his might to calm heavan and earth, his achievements were unsurpassed; at the entrance to the camp, the boom, boom of the brightly painted drums.
Yunchang stopped drinking so that he could display his bravery; his wine was still warm when he cut down Hua Xiong.
Cao Cao was overjoyed. Suddenly, Zhang Fei came out from behind Xuande, and said in a loud voice, "Now that my brother has taken down Hua Xiong, we should fight our way past the pass, and arrest Dong Zhuo; what are we waiting for!" Yuan Shu was outraged, and said, "We senior ministers have been deferential this whole time. How dare this lowly soldier, serving under a county governor, put on such a bellicose display! Get them all out of this tent!" Cao Cao said, "We should reward men of achievement, why make a big deal out of their social status?" Yuan Shu said, "Since all of you only regard a county governor as important, I should take my leave." Cao said, "How can you have such a big misunderstanding over just one sentence?" He then ordered Gongsun Zan to take Xuande, Guan and Zhang back to their camp. Everyone left. Cao Cao secretly sent someone to make a gift of oxen and wine in order to placate the three of them.
Let us now turn to Hua Xiong's defeated army, who had reported back up to the pass. Li Su hurriedly wrote a letter requesting emergency assistance, which he sent to Dong Zhuo. Zhuo immediately got everyone together, including Li Ru and Lü Bu, to discuss the matter. Ru said, "Now that we have lost General Hua Xiong, the power of the bandit rebels is substantial. Yuan Shao is the leader of their alliance. His uncle is Yuan Wei, the current Grand Tutor. If he works from the inside in coordination with elements from the outside, it will make it deeply inconvenient for us; we should first get rid of him. I invite the chancellor to personally take command of the army, allocating forces to surround and capture him."
Zhuo agreed with him; he instructed Li Jue and Guo Si to lead a force of 500 soldiers to surround Yuan Wei's house. Everyone was executed, regardless of age. They immediately took the head of Yuan Wei and put it on display at the pass, for all to see. Zhuo then gathered an army of 200,000, and divided them into two routes; Li Jue and Guo Si were put in charge of the first route, which consisted of a force of 50,000 men. They were to take up position at Sishui Pass, but not engage in any fighting. Zhuo personally led a force of 150,000. This group included Li Ru, Lü Bu, Fan Chou and Zhang Ji, among others. This group took up position at Hulao Pass. This pass was 50 li from Luoyang. When the soldiers and horses arrived at the pass, Zhuo ordered Lü Bu to lead a large force of the 30,000 men down to the front of the pass, where he was to make camp. Zhuo made camp at the top of the pass, where he was quite comfortable.
A messenger on horseback did some snooping around, and then reported back to Yuan Shao at camp. Shao gathered everyone together to discuss the matter. Cao said, "Dong Zhuo has amassed troops at Hulao. He has been blocking the way of our nobles. We should take half of our soldiers to meet the enemy." Shao then dispatched eight of the nobles -- Wang Kuang, Qiao Mao, Bao Xin, Yuan Yi, Kong Rong, Zhang Yang, Tao Qian and Gongsun Zan -- to head toward Hulao Pass to meet the enemy. Cao led an army that would reinforce them. Each of the eight nobles formed their armies. Governor of Henei Commandery, Wang Kuang was the first to arrive with his soldiers. Lü Bu rapidly responded by leading a contingent of 3,000 armored cavalry out to face them. After Wang Kuang had halted his army, he had his camp entrance flags planted into the ground, and placed his troops and horses into battle formations. When he was finished, he looked around and saw Lü Bu riding out onto the field. On his head, Lü Bu wore a shiny gold headpiece which was pinned to his hair with three hair pins; over his torso, he wore a red gown from Xichuan which was embroidered with a variety of flower patterns; on top of that, he wore plated body armor, linked together with rings, which had a picture of a beast swallowing a head on the front of it; around his waist, he had fastened an exquisite belt which had a clasp decorated with figures of lions and barbarian kings. The belt held his armor in place; he had slung a bow and a quiver of arrows around his back, and held his painted trident halberd in his hand; he sat on top of his snorting steed Red Hare. In truth, Lü Bu had no equal among men, and Red Hare had no equal among horses.
Wang Kuang looked back and said, "Who is daring enough to go out and fight?" An officer in back of him galloped out on his horse, his spear in hand. Kuang saw that it was his famed officer from Henei Commandery, Fang Yue. The two squared off against each other; after not more than five bouts, he was stabbed by Lü Bu's trident halberd. Lü Bu then raised his halberd, and charged straight at them. Kuang's army was soundly defeated, and scattered in all four directions. Bu rode back and forth, killing everyone in his path, as if they were not even there. Fortunately, both the armies of Qiao Mao and Yuan Yi had arrived, and came to Wang Kuang's rescue. It was only then that Lü Bu retreated. The three of them had lost a number of horses and men, so they retreated for 30 li, and made camp. Later, the other five armies arrived, and they all got together to discuss the matter; they were saying things like Lü Bu was a hero, and that nobody could stand against him.
While they were considering the matter, a junior officer came to report that Lü Bu was calling them out to fight. The eight nobles all mounted their horses in unison. They split up into eight armies, while Bu watched them from a hilltop. Lü Bu took a group of cavalry, their embroidered flags fluttering in the wind, and charged ahead. Mu Shun, an officer under the command of Shangdang Commandery governor Zhang Yang, rode out on his horse, his spear in hand, to meet him in battle. He was knocked off of his horse from a single thrust of Lü Bu's halberd. Everyone was shocked. Wu Anguo, an officer under the command of Beihai Commandery governor Kong Rong, galloped out on his horse with his iron mallet in his hand. With a flourish of his halberd, Lü Bu smacked his horse on the rump, and rode out to intercept him. After more than ten bouts, a swipe of his halberd had cut off Anguo's hand at the wrist. He threw his mallet on the ground, and rode off. As soon as the soldiers from all eight armies had come out in unison to rescue Wu Anguo, Lü Bu retreated. All of the nobles returned to camp to discuss the matter. Cao Cao said, "Lü Bu is brave and has no equal in battle; we should gather the eighteen nobles to come up with a good strategy. If we were to capture Lü Bu, Dong Zhuo would be easy to kill."
While they were discussing the matter, Lü Bu again led his troops out to challenge the nobles to battle. The eight nobles all went out in unison. Gongsun Zan, wielding his long lance, personally fought with Lü Bu. After not more than a few rounds, Zan was defeated and fled. Lü Bu made Red Hare catch up with him. His horse was capable of traveling great distances in a single day, and was as fast as the wind. When he saw that he was about to catch up, Bu raised his trident halberd and stabbed straight at the center of Zan's back. An officer on the sidelines, who had big round eyes and whiskers that stood up on end, held up his 1.8 zhang snake lance and yelled out while galloping at full speed, "Don't run off, you house servant with three surnames! I, Zhang Fei from Yan, am here!"
When Lü Bu saw this, he abandoned his pursuit of Gongsun Zan, and took on Zhang Fei instead. Fei fought valiantly in a pitched battle against Lü Bu. They fought for more than fifty consecutive bouts, with no clear winner or loser. When Yunchang saw this, he slapped his horse on the rump, gave a flourish with his 82 catty Green Dragon Crescent Blade, and attacked Lü Bu from the other side so that Lü Bu was trapped between them. The three horses had now formed a "T" shape as they fought. After fighting for thirty bouts, they were unable to bring down Lü Bu. Then Liu Xuande drew both of the straight swords that he was wearing on his hips, and raced out on his yellow-maned horse from the side so that he could also assist in the fighting.
The three of them surrounded Lü Bu, and fought with him in a manner that resembled one of those toy lanterns which are adorned with a revolving circle of paper horses. The armies of the eight nobles were all dumbfounded. Lü Bu fought and parried, but was unable to hold them off indefinitely. Seeing Xuande's face, he halfheartedly stabbed with his trident halberd, but Xuande quickly dodged the attack. Lü Bu recklessly forced his way through the forward double-column formation of soldiers, his painted halberd in tow, and sped off on his horse in defeat. But the three of them were in no mood to let him get away, so they slapped their horses on the rump and chased after him. The forces of the eight nobles let out a thunderous roar, and charged in unison. Lü Bu's forces fled to the top of the pass. Xuande, Guan and Zhang were following right behind him. The ancients had a poem dedicated to the subject of the fight between Xuande, Guan and Zhang and Lü Bu:
By the time of Huan and Ling, the sun had begun to set on the Han Dynasty. The evil minister Dong Zhuo deposed the young emperor, and his successor Liu Xie was weak and frightened by his own dreams. Cao Cao distributed an official call to arms throughout the land, and all of the nobles became angry and raised armies. After discussing the matter, they agreed to make Yuan Shao the leader of their alliance, and promised to bring stability and peace to the royal household. Marquis of Wen Lü Bu had no equal among men; the brave and talented came from all over, and bragged about their abilities. Lü Bu wore body armor which gleamed like silver, and was wavy like the scales of a dragon; he fastened his hair underneath a golden headpiece with hairpins that had pheasant tails attached to them. His uneven belt had a clasp that depicted a beast swallowing a whole head, and his shabby robe was brocaded with flying phoenix birds. His dragon steed could sprint like the wind, and his painted halberd glistened like the clear waters of autumn. When he emerged from the pass to challenge the enemy, who would dare to stand against him? The nobles were all scared out of their minds. From among them, emerged a man from Yan named Zhang Yide, who carried his 1.8 zhang snake lance. His tiger-like whiskers stood up at the ends like golden wire, and when he opened his big round eyes, they were penetrating like a bolt of lightning. Zhang Fei and Lü Bu fought desperately without a clear winner or loser; then Guan Yunchang became angry while watching the battle. His Green Dragon Blade gleamed like frost and snow, and his battle garment, embroidered with parrots, fluttered like a butterfly. The hooves of his horse thundered all about like demons and spirits howling; once he became angry, blood often flowed from whatever stood before him. The hero Xuande held his two straight swords, and conjured his majestic powers, displaying courage and ferocity. The three of them surrounded Lü Bu for a long time, and they fought continuously without a break. The sounds of war cries shook the earth, as the air of murder blanketed the cold skies between the Ox and Dipper constellations. Lü Bu's energy was depleted, and he was looking for an escape route; he saw his mountain stronghold in the distance; he slapped his horse on the rump so that he could return there. He dragged the painted pole of his square sky halberd; his army was left in tatters, leaving behind melted down metal weapons and multi-colored banners. He escaped on Red Hare, yanking on his reigns which were made of silk chords; turning around, he sprinted to the top of Hulao Pass.
The three of them followed Lü Bu to the base of the pass, when they saw a bluish-green silk umbrella covering at the top of the pass, fluttering in the western winds of autumn. Zhang Fei yelled out, "That must be Dong Zhuo! There's no great advantage to pursuing Lü Bu; it would be better to first capture the bandit rebel Dong; that way, we could pull out the weed by its roots!" He slapped the rump of his horse, and headed to the top of the pass in order to capture Dong Zhuo. It was a case of:
In order to capture the bandit rebels, one must capture the bandit rebel leader; in order to witness an extraordinary accomplishment, one really must wait for an extraordinary man.
Don't know who won and who lost? Keep reading, and all will be explained.