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Chapter 059-04 용호상박

  不想馬超早已探知備細,便帶親隨數人,仗劍先行,令龐德,馬岱為後應。超潛入韓遂帳中,只見五將與韓遂密語,只聽得楊秋口中說道:「事不宜遲,可速行之!」超大怒,揮劍直入,大喝曰:「群賊焉敢謀害我!」眾皆大驚。超一劍望韓遂面門剁去,遂慌以手迎之,左手早被砍落。五將揮刀齊出。超縱步出帳外,五將圍繞溷殺。超獨揮寶劍,力敵五將。劍光明處,鮮血濺飛:砍翻馬玩,剁倒梁興,三將各自逃生。超復入帳中來殺韓遂時,已被左右救去。帳後一把火起,各寨兵皆動。超連忙上馬。龐德,馬岱亦至,互相混戰。超領軍殺出時,操兵四至:前有許褚,後有徐晃,左有夏侯淵,右有曹洪,西涼之兵,自相併殺。超不見了龐德,馬岱,乃引百餘騎,截於渭橋知上。

  天色微明,只見李堪引一軍從橋下過,超挺槍縱馬逐之。李堪拖槍而走。恰好於禁從馬超背後趕來,禁開弓射馬超,超聽得背後弦響,急閃過,卻射中前面李堪,落馬而死。超回馬來殺于禁。禁拍馬走了。超回橋上住紮,操兵前後大至,虎衛軍當先,亂箭夾射馬超。超以槍撥之,矢皆紛紛落地。超令從騎往來衝殺,爭奈曹兵圍裹堅厚,不能衝出。超於橋上大喝一聲,殺入河北,從騎皆被截斷。超獨在陣中衝突,卻被暗弩射倒坐下馬。馬超墮於地上,操軍逼合。

  正在危急,忽西北角上一彪軍殺來,乃龐德,馬岱也。二人救了馬超。將軍中戰馬,與馬超騎了,翻身殺條血路,望西北而走。曹操聞馬超走脫,傳令諸將:「無分曉夜,務要趕到馬兒。如得首級者賞千金,封萬戶侯。生獲者封大將軍。」眾將得令。各要爭功,迆邐追襲。馬超顧不得人馬睏乏,只顧奔走。從騎漸漸皆散。步兵走不上者,多被擒去。止剩得三十餘騎,與龐德,馬岱望隴西,臨洮而去。

  曹操親自追至安定,知馬超去遠,方收兵回長安。眾將畢集。韓遂已無左手,做了殘疾之人,操教就於長安歇馬,授韓遂西涼侯之職。楊秋,侯選,皆封列侯,令守渭口。下令班師回許都。涼州參軍楊阜,字義山,逕來長安見操。操問之。楊阜曰:「馬超有呂布之勇,深得羌人之心。今丞相若不乘勢剿絕,他日養成氣力,隴上諸郡,非復國家之有也。望丞相且休回兵。」操曰:「吾本欲留兵征之,奈中原多事,南方末定,不可久留。君當為孤保之。」

  阜領諾,又保薦韋康為涼州刺史,同領兵屯冀城,以防馬超。阜臨行,請於操曰:「長安必留重兵以為後援。」操曰:「吾已定下,汝但放心。」阜辭而去。眾將皆問曰:「初賊據潼關,渭北道缺,丞相不從河東擊馮翊,而反守潼關,遷延日久,而後北渡,立營固守,何也?」操曰:「初賊守潼關,若吾初到,便取河東,賊必以各寨分守諸渡口,則河西不可渡矣。吾故盛兵皆聚於潼關前,使賊盡南守,而河西不準備,故徐晃、朱靈得渡也。吾然後引兵北渡,連車樹柵為甬道,築冰城,欲賊知吾弱,以驕其心,使不準備。吾乃巧用反間,畜士卒之力,一旦擊破之。正所謂『疾雷不及掩耳』。兵之變化,固非一道也。」

102 All this was done, but not without some hesitation and delay, and some news of the plot reached Ma Chao. He found out the careful preparations that had been made and resolved to act first. Leaving Ma Dai and Pang De in reserve, he chose a few trusted leaders and with stealthy steps made his way into Han Sui's tent. There he found Han Sui and his five confederates deep in conversation. He just caught a word or two that Yang Qiu said, "We must not delay, now is the time."

103 In burst Ma Chao raging and yelling, "You herd of rebels! Would you dare to plot against me?"

104 They were taken aback. Ma Chao sprang at Han Sui and slashed at his face. Han Sui put up his hand to ward off the blow, and his hand was cut off. The five drew their swords and set on Ma Chao and his men, who rushed outside. Soon Ma Chao was hemmed in by the five, but he kept them at bay by wonderful swordsmanship. And as the swords flashed, the red blood flowed. Soon Ma Wan was down and Liang Xing disabled; then the other three fled.

105 Ma Chao ran back into the tent to finish Han Sui, but the servants had removed him. Then a torch was lit, and soon there was commotion all through the camp. Ma Chao mounted his horse, for Pang De and Ma Dai had now arrived, and the real fight began. Cao Cao's troops poured in from all sides: Xu Chu and Xu Huang were in front and behind; Xiahou Yuan and Cao Hong to the left and right. Meanwhile, the Xiliang soldiers fought with each other.

106 Losing sight of his generals, Ma Chao and one hundred riders got to the head of the floating bridge over the River Wei just about dawn. There he fell across Li Kan coming over the bridge with an army. Ma Chao set his spear and rode at him full tilt. Li Kan turned down his spear and fled. From behind Ma Chao, Yu Jin came up in pursuit. But unable to get near enough to seize Ma Chao, Yu Jin sent an arrow flying after him. Ma Chao's ear caught the twang of the bowstring, and he dodged the arrow, which flew on and killed Li Kan. Ma Chao turned to attack his pursuer, who galloped away, and then he returned and took possession of the bridge.

107 Quickly Cao Cao's troops gathered about him, and the fiercest among them, the Tiger Guard, shot arrows at Ma Chao, which he warded off with his spear shaft so that they fell harmless to the earth. Ma Chao and his troops rode to and fro striking a blow wherever there was a chance, but the enemy were very thick about him, and he could not force his way out. In desperation he cut an alley northwards and got through, but quite alone. Of his followers everyone fell.

108 Still he kept on dashing this way and that, till he was brought down by a crossbow bolt. He lay upon the ground and his enemies were pressing in. But at the critical moment, an army came in from the northwest and rescued him. Pang De and Ma Dai had come up in the very nick of time.

109 Thus Ma Chao was rescued, and they set him on one of the soldiers' horses, and he again took up the battle. Leaving a trail of blood in his rear, he got away northwest.

110 Hearing that his enemy had got away, Cao Cao gave order to his generals, "Pursue him day and night, and rich rewards are for him dead or alive. For his head the rewards are a thousand ounces of gold and the lordship of a fief of ten thousand families. If anyone captures Ma Chao, the reward is the rank of general."

111 Consequently the pursuit was hot as everyone was anxious to win renown and reward. Meanwhile careless of all but flight, Ma Chao galloped on, and one by one his followers dropped by the way. The footmen who were unable to keep up were captured till very few remained, and only some scores of riders were left. They traveled toward Lintao, a city in West Valley Land.

112 Cao Cao in person joined the pursuit and got to Anding, but there Ma Chao was still far in advance, so he gave up and returned. Gradually the generals did the same, all coming back to Changan. Poor Han Sui, with the loss of his left hand, was an invalid, but he was rewarded with the Lordship of Xiliang. Yang Qiu and Hou Xuan were given noble ranks and offices in Weikou.

113 Then orders were given to lead the whole army back to the capital. Yang Fu, a military adviser from Liangzhou, came to Changan to point out the danger of withdrawal.

114 "Ma Chao has the boldness of Lu Bu and the heart of a barbarian. Unless you destroy him this time, he will come again and he will be both bolder and stronger, and the whole west will be lost. Wherefore you should not withdraw your army."

115 Cao Cao said, "I would be quite willing to finish the subjugation. But there is much to do in the capital, and the south is still to conquer. So I cannot remain. But you, Sir, might secure this region for me. Do you consent?"

116 Yang Fu did consent. And he brought to Cao Cao's notice Wei Kang, who was made Imperial Protector of Liangzhou, with joint military powers.

117 Just before Yang Fu left, he said to Cao Cao, "A strong force ought to be left in Changan, as a reserve in case they be required."

118 "That has been already dealt with," replied Cao Cao.

119 Contentedly enough Yang Fu took leave and went away.

120 Cao Cao's generals asked him to explain his recent policy, saying, "Since the first outbreak at Tong Pass, O Prime Minister, the north bank of River Wei was undefended. Why did you not cross to the north bank from the east of the Yellow River? But instead you engaged in the attack of the Pass for many days before crossing to the north bank."

121 And he replied, "The rebels first held the Pass. Had I forthwith taken the east side of the Yellow River, the rebels would have defended the camps one by one and mustered at all the ferries, and I should never have got across to the west side (which was also the north bank of River Wei). So I massed troops against Tong Pass and made the rebels guard the south bank of River Wei, so that the north bank was left open. Thus Xu Huang and Zhu Ling could move there, and I was able later to cross over to join them. Then I made the raised road and the mud rampart to deceive the enemy and cause them to think I was weak and thus embolden them up to the point of attacking without proper preparation. Then I used the clever device of causing dissension in their ranks and was able in one day to destroy the stored up energy of all their forces. 'It was a thunder clap before you could cover your ears.' Yes, indeed, the mutations of the art of war can be called infinite."



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