Next day the drums beat an advance and Cao Ren having drawn up his soldiers sent a messenger over to ask if Liu Bei recognized his plan of battle array.
So Shan Fu went on a hill and looked over it.
Then he said to Liu Bei "The arrangement is called 'The Eight DockedGates' and the names of the gates are Birth Exit Expanse Wound FearAnnihilation Obstacle and Death. If you enter by one of the three BirthExit or Expanse you succeed. If by one of the gates Wound Fear or Annihilationyou sustain injuries. The other two gates Obstacles and Death will bringthe end.
Now though the eight gates are all there quite correct the central key-postis lacking and the whole formation can be thrown into confusion by entryfrom the southeast and exit due west."
Wherefore certain orders were issued and Zhao Yun leading five hundred troops rode out on his prancing steed to break the array. He burst in as directed at the southeast and with great clamor and fighting reached the center. Cao Ren made for the north but Zhao Yun instead of following him made a dash westward and got through. Thence he turned round to the southeast again and smote till Cao Ren's army was in disarray. Liu Bei gave a general advance signal and the victory was complete. The beaten enemy retired.
Shan Fu forbade pursuit and they returned. The loss of the battle convinced Cao Ren of the wisdom of his colleague Li Dian and he sent for Li Dian to consult.
"They certainly have some very able person in Liu Bei's army sincemy formation was so quickly broken" said Cao Ren.
"My chief anxiety is about Fancheng" said Li Dian.
"I will raid their camp this night" said Cao Ren. "If I succeed we will decide upon what should be done next. If I fail we will return to Fancheng."
"Their camp will be well prepared against such a thing and you will fail" said Li Dian.
"How can you expect to fight successfully when you are so full of doubts?" said Cao Ren angrily.
He held no more converse with his cautious colleague but himself took command of the van and set out. Li Dian was relegated to the rear. The attack on the enemy's camp was fixed for the second watch.
Now as Shan Fu was discussing plans with his chief a whirlwind from thenortheast went by which Shan Fu said "There will be a raid on thecamp tonight."
"How shall we meet it?" said Liu Bei.
"The plans are quite ready" was the reply.
Shan Fu whispered them to the chief. So at the second watch when the enemyarrived they saw fires on all sides the stockades and huts burning. CaoRen understood at once that all hope of a surprise was vain and he turnedto get away as quickly as possible. This was the signal for Zhao Yun tofall on and that cut Cao Ren's return road. He hastened north toward theriver and reached the bank but while waiting for boats to cross thestream up came Zhang Fei and attacked.
By dint of great efforts and with the support of Li Dian Cao Ren got into a boat but most of the soldiers were drowned in the stream. As soon as he got to the farther shore he bolted for Fancheng. He reached the wall and hailed the gate but instead of a friendly welcome he heard the rolling of drums which was soon followed by the appearance of a body of troops. Guan Yu led them.
"I took the city a long time ago!" shouted Guan Yu.