Ravaging Times

series 2 chapter 3

Not Human series (2)

Lowly Mistress

finale
Chen Mou

[Guan Yu]: I tried to be nice! But you keep talking nonsense!
[GY]: I’d cut off your head now if I don’t pity you!

[Diao Chan]: Do you really feel nothing toward me?

[Chen Gong]: Diao Chan!

[GY]: Dare to say another word?

[DC]: Are you a man if you’re not attracted to me?

[GY]: You impudent woman!

[CG]: General! Stop!

[CG]: Don’t give in to impulse! She’s trying to make you kill her!

[GY]: Wh… what!

[DC]: Ah~~

[DC]: Ah~~

[CG]: Yun Chang,

[?]: what are we going to do?

[GY]: Diao Chan…

[GY]: I can only send you to one place now.

{wind sfx: hoo~}

[father and son]: One, two,

[father and son]: three!

[son]: Last one.

[father]: In these war torn times, who knows how many more people have died.

[father]: Let’s bury them and go home.

[son]: Look, dad. It’s that kind Sister again.

[father]: Soldier brothers, you guys are really lucky to be buried here.

[father]: You got us to serve you, and Sister would come everyday to pass you onto the next life.

[father]: Is that right, son?

[father]: Son, are you going to tell me again that you have never seen such a pretty nun?

[son]: As a southwestern breeze I would fade into your embrace; take me into your arms or I will be lost…
(“I’m willing to become the southwestern wind, and fade away into your embrace, my husband. But if you won’t open your arms, where could I, your lowly mistress, lean on…”)

[son]: or I will be lost…

[father]: Hahaha! What’re you singing about!
[son]: Nonono! I heard it from that Sister. I didn’t think…

[father]: You know what, son,
[father]: this messy burial ground is quite famous!

[father]: Thirty years ago a man who was more powerful than Guan Yu was buried here.

[son]: What kind of man was he, dad?

[father]: Um, I’m not sure, but I heard that he didn’t have a good reputation.

[son]: Ha~ Then he couldn’t have been a good man.

[father]: But you know something? His wife was gorgeous!

[DC]: It’s almost daybreak.

[DC]: Lü Bu…

[DC]: can we really go now?

In “Records of Three Kingdoms”, there was no mentioning of the name Diao Chan, nor was there anything about Wang Yun’s series of stratagem. It only says that Lü Bu was having an affair with one of Dong Zhuo’s servant girls, and out of fear of being punished, he was persuaded by Wang Yun to kill Dong Zhuo. In “Book of Han” it’s said that Cao Cao sent a spunky and beautiful girl (刁婵 ~ “feisty girl”?) to corrupt Dong Zhuo. The book is now lost, but the ancient hanzi 刁 sounds like 貂 (“diao”), thus 刁婵 may just be “貂婵”. Folklore versions tend to be more romantic, saying that Lü Bu and Diao Chan were originally husband and wife, and after the war separated them, Diao Chan was captured and forced to become Dong Zhuo’s mistress. Lü Bu then snuck into the army, and killed Dong Zhuo to save his wife.

There were two legendary figures in Diao Chan’s life. The first was her husband Lü Bu, who was said to be the most skilled warrior in the world. A quote from “Records of Three Kingdoms – Tales of Cao Man” was, “Lü Bu stands out amongst mortals, Red-hare stands out amongst horses”. So you can imagine that Lü Bu was the best fighter at the time. “Records of Three Kingdoms” also says that when Cao Cao and Liu Bei breached Xiapi, Lü Bu wanted to heed Chen Gong’s advice and go and cut off Cao Cao’s supply line, which could have led to a victory. But his wife was worried that he might be in danger, and that the chaos after a loss could separate them, so she prevented him from leaving. Lü Bu stayed to guard the city and was eventually defeated. It shows that he may have been a caring husband, but he was too greedy, and just one misstep turned his life into a tragedy.

The other legendary figure was Guan Yu, a man who was later revered as the “Master of War”. We can find clues of his involvement in this subject in “The Spring and Autumn Annals of Wei”: some thinks that “Diao Chan” was actually the wife (last name Du) of Lü Bu’s subordinate Qin Yi Lu, who was sent to ask help from Yuan Shu when Lü Bu was losing, but later married a woman on Yuan Shu’s side, making lady Du without a husband. Lady Du was very pretty, and even Guan Yu was moved by her beauty. He made several requests to Cao Cao to have her (for marriage). Cao Cao didn’t take it seriously at first, so he agreed; but after they took Xiapi, Cao Cao kept her instead of his word.
To many people, however, Guan Yu couldn’t possibly have been like that, because many theatrical performances have painted him in a better light. As a result, Diao Chan became a tragic woman who caused the downfall of a country, and in the end she was either killed by Guan Yu, or according to a more familiar story: “Guan Yu spared Diao Chan under the moonlight.” Such a version used to be shown in Hong Kong’s Cantonese Opera, with Guan Yu being played by actor Guan De Xing. There are really many many tales about Diao Chan, and I didn’t intent to change her historical image in this story anyway. I only sympathized with her hopeless struggle – at a time when men treated women like valuables to be given away.

Heaven and earth, no more; life was trivial!
Sun and moon, no more; for no one they toil!
Gold and silver, no more; in death you own nothing!
Wife and children, no more; you go your separate ways!
Power and fame, no more; only your grave awaits!
“The Song of Loss”

3 Comments »

  1. too bad I haven’t see the comic version, it’s realy rare to see Guan Yu in kinda romantic situation

    Like

    Comment by eric — November 24, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  2. Emphasis on “kinda”. Haha.

    Nice art you got there! :)

    Thanks for visiting and reading.

    Like

    Comment by merc — November 24, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  3. Yeah, reading this story makes me know “the other side” of Guan Yu lol
    and thank you for visitng my gallery and translating this great books, you’re rocking!

    Like

    Comment by eric — November 25, 2008 @ 10:27 am


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