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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The God of War"

The God of War

The God of War, Guan Di, was really named Guan Yu. At the time when the rebellion of the Yellow Turbans was raging throughout the empire, he, together with two others whom he met by the wayside, and who were inspired with the same love of country which possessed him, made a pact of friendship. One of the two was Liu Be, afterward emperor, the other was named Dschang Fe. The three met in a peach-orchard and swore to be brothers one to the other, although they were of different families. They sacrificed a white steed and vowed to be true to each other to the death.

Guan Yu was faithful, honest, upright and brave beyond all measure. He loved to read Confucius’s “Annals of Lu,” which tell of the rise and fall of empires. He aided his friend Liu Be to subdue the Yellow Turbans and to conquer the land of the four rivers. The horse he rode was known as the Red Hare, and could run a thousand miles in a day. Guan Yu had a knife shaped like a half-moon which was called the Green Dragon. His eyebrows were beautiful like those of the silk-butterflies, and his eyes were long-slitted like the eyes of the Phenix. His face was scarlet-red in color, and his beard so long that it hung down over his stomach. Once, when he appeared before the emperor, the latter called him Duke Fairbeard, and presented him with a silken pocket in which to place his beard. He wore a garment of green brocade. Whenever he went into battle he showed invincible bravery. Whether he were opposed by a thousand armies or by ten thousand horsemen—he attacked them as though they were merely air.

Once the evil Tsau Tsau had incited the enemies of his master, the Emperor, to take the city by treachery. When Guan Yu heard of it he hastened up with an army to relieve the town. But he fell into an ambush, and, together with his son, was brought a captive to the capital of the enemy’s land. The prince of that country would have been glad to have had him go over to his side; but Guan Yu swore that he would not yield to death himself.

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