Wow, really down to the wire this month…
So, without further delay, here’s this month’s Retelling Myths!
For Love, Lu Bu Betrays His Foster Father
My foster father yelled in anger as his swung his dadao at me.
Though injured as I was, I managed to narrowly dodge the giant blade of his great sabre.
In my stead, the garden boulder that had been behind me was shattered into two.
"Lu Bu!" my foster father snarled at me, "I will not let you escape!"
In his other hand, his crystal ball started to glow and crackle with lightning.
"No, Lord Dong!" my beloved Diaochan begged him, "Please, spare him!"
The love of my life ran up to my foster father, but he slapped her away, yelling, "Be quiet, woman! When I'm done with him, it'll be your turn next!"
"Diaochan!" I yelled out, as my love recoiled from the strike, and crashed into the ground.
"Worry about yourself!" my foster father yelled, as lightning and thunder bolted out from his crystal ball at me.
Gritting through the pain of my injuries, I raised up my fangtian ji, the Sky Piercer.
With great luck, I managed to catch the lightning with my double crescent-bladed spear.
In great pain, I yelled out as I spun the ji around and threw the lightning behind me, sending it crashing into the ground.
I breathed heavily as I struggled to prop myself up with the Sky Piercer.
The guards quickly surrounded me, with their spears pointing at me.
Through tired breaths, I managed to yell out, "To me, Red Hare!"
The guards looked around, confused.
Suddenly, a majestic neigh rang out.
And from the slanted roof of one of the palace residences, my noble steed leaped into the air.
"Damn that red horse!" my foster father yelled, as Red Hare slammed into his guards, scattering them.
Quickly, I managed to mount my horse.
"Lu Bu!" my foster father yelled, "If you dare to leave now, then we are father-and-son no more!"
"Then so be it, Dong Zhuo!" I yelled back.
I looked back at Daiochan one more time, and said, "I'll be back for you, my love!"
"Go!" she said.
I tapped my heels against Red Hare's sides, ordering him to go.
"After him!" I heard Dong Zhuo yell.
But, it was useless, as Red Hare could easily outpace any horse, and we escaped from the palace.
I stared at the fire.
It was two weeks later, and I was camping close to Dong Zhuo's palace.
After my escape, I had managed to make it to a nearby village.
Grateful for the time that I had saved the village from bandits, the villagers helped me as I healed from my injuries.
And now, I had journeyed back to my former home, ready to storm the palace and rescue my love.
But first, I must rest for the night.
And as I stared into the fire, I thought back to the events that had led me here.
The country was in turmoil.
After centuries, the great Han empire had been irrevocably fractured.
My foster father, Dong Zhuo, had managed to grab power during this turmoil, and was now a warlord with a sizable domain under his control.
As part of his reign, he had ordered every village under his rule to send to him their most beautiful women, along with a sizable tribute, so that the women would have the 'honour' of being his concubines.
Any disobedient villages would be razed.
When we learned that bandits had been raiding nearby villages, I set out with a small group of soldiers to a such a village - one where a convoy of to-be concubines and tributes would be stopping at.
And as luck would have it, the bandits did indeed target that village and the convoy.
Armed with my Sky Piercer, I rode into battle with Red Hare.
The bandits were no match for me and my soldiers, and we easily stopped them - some of them were killed during the battle, while the others were captured.
It was after that battle, where I would meet Diaochan for the first time.
She was one of the women who had been sent to become one of Dong Zhuo's concubines.
And even though we had denied it then, a connection of sorts had formed between the two of us.
Diaochan had become one of Dong Zhuo's many concubines.
And though I had tried to resist it, the feelings between us only grew.
She was the only one that I could be truthful with, the only one that I could talk with about the conflicting feelings that I had been having about my foster father's actions.
And it was during one such conversation, that we had begun to plan our escape from Dong Zhuo's grasp.
One of my foster father's lavish banquets had just finished - I had attended as my foster father's bodyguard and foster son, of course, while Diaochan was one of the many concubines that Dong Zhuo had brought out to attend to our guests.
That night, I secretly met Diaochan in her room, as I had done so many times before.
"My lord!" Diaochan exclaimed, as she embraced me with tears in her eyes, still horrified by what had happened at the banquet, "how can you serve such a man?!"
As I returned her embrace, the only answer that I could say was, "I... I don't know."
We sat down, and I poured some tea for her, hoping that the warm drink would help.
"What he did to those bandits..." Diaochan said, as her shaking hands tried to lift the cup to her mouth.
I grimaced as I remembered how Dong Zhuo had one of the captured bandits brought out and tortured for 'entertainment'.
First, he had the bandit's tongue cut off. Then, the bandit's limbs was severed, one by one. And, finally, the bandit was burned alive.
My foster father gleefully enjoyed the torment that he had inflicted on the bandit - and this was far from the first time that he had a captive tortured during his many banquets.
From what I could tell, everyone else was greatly disturbed by what was happening - myself included.
But, we all feigned enjoyment, for we were afraid of being the target of Dong Zhuo's wrath.
"I-It's not just criminals either," Diaochan said, after she was finally able to take a sip from the cup of tea, "political enemies, people who've spoken out against him, and even just people that he didn't like for whatever reason - he orders them all to be arrested on false charges, and then has them tortured and executed!"
"I know," I said, grimly.
"And women like me are basically ordered to be abducted from our homes, all for his own amusement!" Diaochan continued.
"I know," I said, again.
"All the while, he and his inner circle gorge themselves, even as the rest of his domain starves!"
"I know," I said, one more time.
"If you know all this," Diaochan said, looking angrily at me, "then how can you continue to serve him?!"
For that, I had no answer.
"My lord," Diaochan said, tearfully, "I love you..."
I looked up at her.
"But, I don't know if I can love you for much longer, if you are to continue serving under such a monster!"
For a few moments, I could only stare at my beloved Diaochan.
Finally, I gathered my courage, and I said, "Then let's leave."
Diaochan looked at me, surprised, "My lord?"
"Let's leave," I repeated, "Just you and me. We'll go somewhere far away, and out of Dong Zhuo's grasp - somewhere where we can live in peace, away from all of... this."
I took her hands into mine, and I gave them a gentle squeeze, "What do you say, my love?"
Diaochan gave me a small smile, "Yes, let us escape this hell together, my lord!"
A few nights later, I made my way to Diaochan's room.
Quietly, I knocked on the door.
The door opened, and Diaochan greeted me softly, "My lord."
"Are you prepared to leave?" I asked, softly as well.
Diaochan nodded, clutching a small bag.
"Good," I said, "Then let us-"
Suddenly, a thunderous roar rang out from behind me, and I was struck by lightning from behind.
"My lord!" Diaochan cried out, as I fell to my knees.
"Get him!" I heard the voice of my foster father yell out.
I turned around, and used my Sky Piercer to fend off the ambush of spears from the guards.
However, some of their spear tips made it past my defenses, and struck my unprepared body.
I yelled in pain as I swung my fangtian ji in a wide arc, sending the guards back away from us.
Suddenly, I heard Diaochan scream out in surprise from behind me.
I turned back to see Diaochan getting dragged away from me by some guards, while the other guards charged at me with their spears.
I jumped back to avoid the spears, landing in the garden.
Dong Zhuo walked in front of Diaochan, and turned to face me.
"My son," he said, "what do you think you're doing?!"
"I can no longer serve under you," I said to my foster father, "I can no longer abide by the way that you do things!"
"I'll admit," he said, "that perhaps some of the things that I do are a bit... extreme."
"But," Dong Zhuo continued with a smug grin, "I do find them so very enjoyable."
Dong Zhuo laughed.
"Don't you see, Lu Bu?" he said, "It is much easier to control the people with fear, rather than to try and win their respect or love!"
"And don't tell me that you haven't been enjoying the rewards that it has brought us!" Dong Zhuo said, gesturing to Diaochan, "At first, I was insulted that you would have an affair with one of my concubines. But, if it keeps you, my foster son and my finest warrior, happy, then I was willing to let this insult slip by!"
"So, what do you say, son?" my foster father said, holding out a hand to me, "Pledge your loyalty to me once more, and we can forget that this ever happened. I'll even let you have Diaochan!"
I looked at my foster father's hand.
And then, I looked at the sad and scared face of my beloved Diaochan.
"No," I said, "I will not serve under you anymore, and neither will Diaochan."
My foster father's face dropped in disappointment.
He retracted his hand, and drew his dadao, "Then so be it, Lu Bu!"
Dong Zhuo charged at me with his sabre.
And not long after that, I was forced to escape on Red Hare, without Diaochan by my side.
It was time.
Riding on my noble steed, Red Hare, we stormed Dong Zhuo's palace.
With Sky Piercer, I easily fended off the guards.
As we approached the palace, Red Hare leapt into the air, easily going over the palace walls, and smashing into the guards on the other side.
Nothing would stop me from reuniting with my beloved Diaochan.
We made our way to the palace gardens, where a bolt of lightning blasted its way towards me.
Quickly, I jumped off Red Hare, and the both of us swiftly dodged the lightning bolt.
"Lu Bu!" a voice yelled, as I landed.
It was Dong Zhuo, holding his crystal ball, ready to blast another bolt of lightning at me again.
Behind him, some guards held Diaochan captive, with their swords by her neck.
"Surrender!" Dong Zhuo said, "Or my guards will kill her!"
"Kill her," I said to the guards, "And your lives will be forfeit."
The guards, not knowing what to do, lowered their swords, but held on to Diaochan.
Dong Zhuo gave the guards a glare, and angrily said, "Must I do everything myself?!"
The crystal ball glowed and crackled again.
Easily, I dodged the lightning bolt that came next.
"You had surprised me with an ambush the last time," I said, aiming my fangtian ji at Dong Zhuo, "But this time, you and your soldiers will be no match for me."
Dong Zhuo yelled in anger as he drew his dadao and charged at me.
I thrust my ji at him, but Dong Zhuo parried it away.
Quickly, he followed up with a slash at my neck.
I ducked under the blade, and jumped out of the way of the charging Dong Zhuo.
We turned around to face each other again.
Dong Zhuo smirked - the crystal ball in his hand had been gathering lightning this whole time.
"You fool!" he said, "You have fallen into my trap! If you dodge this, then Diaochan will be the one who gets struck by lightning instead!"
And with that, he unleashed the most powerful bolt of thunder and lightning that I had ever seen.
Quickly, I thrust my fangtian ji forward, managing to catch the lightning with the spear tip.
As Dong Zhuo continued to unleash lightning from his crystal ball, I quickly twirled the tip of my ji, drawing the lightning into the double crescent-bladed spear tip.
When the last of the bolt of lightning had been unleashed, it threatened to burst out of the blades of my ji.
With a yell, I summoned all of my strength, and I threw my fangtian ji into the sky, where it pierced the clouds and parted them with a spiral.
I breathed heavily, having just managed to avoid a devastating attack.
Dong Zhuo laughed through his own heavy breaths, "You might have been able to avoid that, but now you're unarmed."
His crystal ball started to glow and crackle with lightning and thunder once more.
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning shot down from the sky and struck Dong Zhuo.
"What?!" he yelled as the bolt coursed through him.
This was the moment that I had been waiting for - the bolt of lightning from my Sky Piercer as it made its way back down to me.
Seizing this chance, I called out, "Red Hare!"
I jumped onto my noble steed as he made his way to me.
Together, we jumped onto the palace roofs, and then we leapt off into the air.
Next, I jumped off of Red Hare, going further into the sky.
I grabbed the now-meteoric Sky Piercer, and aimed it at my former foster father.
Together, we crashed into Dong Zhuo, and I pierced his chest with my ji - sending his own lightning and thunder back into him, as he crashed into the garden grounds.
The lightning coursed through his body until it was set aflame.
I pulled out my ji and jumped back, away from Dong Zhuo.
Dong Zhuo screamed in fury.
He struggled to get up, even as the flames consumed him.
"Damn you, Lu Bu!" he yelled, "You have betrayed me, your own foster father, for some concubine?!"
"No," I said, "I betrayed you... for love."
Dong Zhuo let out one more scream of fury and pain.
And then he finally collapsed - dead.
I glared at the remaining guards.
Quickly, they scampered off, leaving Diaochan behind.
At long last, I walked over to my beloved Diaochan, reuniting with her once more.
She looked at me with a smile, "My lord..."
"You don't have to call me that anymore," I said.
Embracing each other, we kissed.
From behind me, Red Hare neighed and tapped his foot a few times, as if impatient.
We looked at Red Hare, and burst out into laughter.
"Alright, Red Hare," I said, "We're coming."
We walked over to Red Hare, and I helped Diaochan onto him.
"We'll have to find another horse," I said to Diaochan, as I guided Red Hare with the reins, "But this will do for now."
From atop Red Hare, Diaochan asked, "Where will we go now?"
"Somewhere far away from all this war and turmoil - somewhere where we can live in peace," I replied, "How does that sound?"
Diaochan smiled, "I would like that, Lu Bu."
And so, finally freed from Dong Zhuo's grasp, we set off - looking to find that peaceful somewhere.
I like to call this one my super altered Lu Bu story, because, well, of just how much I've altered the usual depictions of this story.
Basically, the only thing that is "accurate" (keeping in mind that Romance of the Three Kingdoms itself was also very fictional) is Lu Bu killing Dong Zhuo, I've made up a lot of the other details.
As for why, I'm not sure...
Lu Bu is known to be a mighty warrior, but also a temperamental and treacherous person who betrayed TWO of his foster fathers, as well as frequently switching allegiances.
But, being an avid player of Fate/Grand Order, it was always quite impressive to me how the writers of that game could garner sympathy for their versions of some of the most infamous people in history and in legend - not by erasing their deeds, but by giving them FICTIONAL reasons for their deeds. As I write this, their version of Xiang Yu's history comes to mind.
(Again, I should stress that I am talking about F/GO's versions SPECIFICALLY, and that the backstories given in that game are HIGHLY fictionalized.)
So, with that in mind, when this story popped into my head, I decided to give it a shot, and completely fictionalize the events behind Lu Bu's killing of Dong Zhuo to put this version of Lu Bu in a more sympathetic light.
Of course, in the process of doing that, I've also made Diaochan a bit more sympathetic as well, since she is not being deceitful here. Whereas in the novel, she deceives both Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo by using both men's love for her against each other (as well as being part of a plot where she's presented as a concubine to Dong Zhuo AND betrothed to Lu Bu at the same time, to further play the two against each other). Whether or not she loved either of them varies with different tellings of the story. Also to note, Diaochan herself is mostly a fictional invention of the famous novel, though it is recorded that Lu Bu did have an affair with one of Dong Zhuo's maids.
Speaking of Dong Zhuo - he actually was a tyrant who tortured his captives during banquets, so I actually didn't have to change much there...
Left out for this version, is that Lu Bu had betrayed and murdered a different warlord to join Dong Zhuo. In the novel, the warlord that Lu Bu betrays was his FIRST foster father, and he joins Dong Zhuo after being offered many gifts (including Red Hare) - he does not join out of loyalty to any cause or such.
Another major alteration is that Lu Bu historically had a wife and family at this time as well - this was excised for this version, to keep the story more streamlined, and to keep Lu Bu more sympathetic.
I also decided to use Sky Piercer, the usual translation for Lu Bu's weapon, instead of Fangtian Huaji, the Chinese name - as I felt that Sky Piercer would fit more with how the story was being told.
And, of course, I threw in some fantasy elements, with how Dong Zhuo can shatter boulders with his dadao and shoot out lightning from a cystal ball, how Lu Bu can use the Sky Piercer to catch lightning, how supernaturally enhanced Red Hare is, etc. Those bits were definitely inspired by Dynasty Warriors, Warriors Orochi, Fate, and a bunch more media that gave Lu Bu supernatural/superhuman abilities.
Lastly, in the famous novel and historically, Lu Bu gets caught up in the conflict and the turmoil again, and soon gets executed (along with Diaochan in some versions). So, I would like to think that the last major alteration that I've made is that Lu Bu keeps his word to Diaochan at the end of my story, and that these versions of Lu Bu and Diaochan disappear from the turmoils of China and the Three Kingdoms to live out their lives in peace.
(Because of that and all the other changes, this story will probably not be 'canon' to any other Three Kingdom stories that I have written or will write.)
So, yeah, this was a highly altered and romanticized version of Lu Bu killing Dong Zhuo, and I hope that you enjoyed it!
The Sun Aegis - Part 6, now called “The Hidden Merfolk Shoal”, is nearly finished - around two more chapters and an epilogue to go!
Unicorn Girl Comic - The script is basically done, just looking for an illustrator now. Let me know if you know anyone who’s interested!
New Video - I’ve found an illustrator for the narrated story video adaptation of ‘A Single Rose in a Field of Lavender’! Currently looking for someone with an androgynous to voice it, let me know if you know anyone who’s interested!
Thank you for reading!
As always, please consider:
More Retelling Myths can be found here!
See you all next month!
From E. H. Lau