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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Atlas of Shu 蜀道图 (shǔ dào tú)

Posted by Ricky Chua On 6:23 PM No comments
Imagine this scenario. A scholarly male with an ugly not-so-pleasant-looking face approaches you, walking with a limp. He claims he can show you the way into a bank vault that is wide open, literally inviting you to plunder it to your heart's content. And he isn't kidding. You know there is some truth to his claim.

Would you take up his offer?

Cao Cao 曹操 did not. He was not interested in talking with the fuglies and showed this scholar little respect.

Big mistake. Cao Cao had hit the biggest jackpot of his career and he threw it away. Liu Bei 刘备 seizes the opportunity and took up the offer. It was thence, the Kingdom of Shu 蜀国 was born. Who was this ugly scholar? And what was the "bank vault"? Read on the find out.

Ability description:
When equipped, the physical distance of any player from you is 1. Augmentation of distances through horses will then be added on accordingly.

Historical basis:
The ugly scholar's name is Zhang Song 张松. He was an official from Xi Chuan 西川, then under the rule of the timid and ineffective Liu Zhang 刘璋. Xi Chuan was about to come under attack and Zhang Song was tasked to approach Cao Cao for an alliance.

Though Zhang Song was only supposed to seek an alliance, deep inside he knew that Liu Zhang needs to be disposed of. A weak leader would only bring calamity. Thus in secret, Zhang Song planned to "give" Xi Chuan (and with it the entire western China) to Cao Cao. Unfortunately, Cao Cao gave little respect to Zhang Song, thanks to his ugly appearance. Zhang Song was made to wait fruitlessly outside Cao Cao's court. Only after offering Cao Cao's guard a bribe did he get an audience with Cao Cao, and

Disappointed, Zhang Song turned homewards. Though he could ask Liu Bei to fulfill his wishes, Zhang Song could not openly ask Liu Bei since the task was only to convince Cao Cao. Yet, Liu Bei got wind of Zhang Song's intentions and made exceptionally sure that his generals await Zhang Song along his route home.

When Zhang Song bumped into Liu Bei's generals, he was shocked at the caliber of welcome bestowed upon him. The welcoming party was none other than Zhao Yun 赵云 and Guan Yu 关羽, two very famous generals by then. When they escorted Zhang Song to meet Liu Bei, Liu Bei spent the entire evening companying Zhang Song in person, a far cry from Cao Cao's hospitality.

Convinced that Liu Bei is the right leader to lead Xi Chuan out of misery, Zhang Song gave to Liu Bei the Atlas of Shu. In that map, obstacles, distances and shortcuts were clearly drawn. It was the key to invading Xi Chuan unopposed! Liu Bei wasted no time moving his focus westwards, over-running Liu Zhang and eventually setting up homebase in the West. Thus, the Kingdom of Shu was official born.


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