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Pang Tong

Pang Tong (龐統) (178-213Anno Domini|AD), courtesy name Shiyuan (士元), was an advisor to Liu Bei during the Later Han period. His Taoism|Taoist name was Young Fenghuang|Phoenix (鳯雛; Fengchu). The epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms gives Pang Tong as a military tactician of genius, and describes Pang and the great Zhuge Liang in equal terms. Indeed, Sima Wei first recommends Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang to the hero Liu Bei with the introduction

"Sleeping Dragon and Young Phoenix: with either one you can settle all under heaven."

Pang Tong was born in Xiangyang in Kingdom of Wu|East Wu, and so initially served the lord Sun Quan. In this capacity, Pang pretends to defect to Cao Cao in the build-up to the Battle of Red Cliffs, and advises Cao to chain his warships together, ostensibly to stabilise them and reduce sea-sickness among the soldiers. As a result, when Wu attacked the ships with fire, the fire spread quickly to destroy Cao Cao's entire fleet.

After the death of Wu's commander-in-chief Zhou Yu, Zhou's successor Lu Su recommended Pang Tong to Sun Quan as a chief advisor. However, Sun Quan was immediately prejudiced against Pang by his ugly appearance, and the young man took offense. When asked how his learning compared to the late commander Zhou Yu, Pang haughtily replied that his abilities were not to be compared to those of Zhou Yu.

Pang Tong then went to serve Liu Bei, and mapped out the occupation of Liu Zhang's territory in Yizhou (modern Sichuan) which Zhuge Liang had decided years ago to be the heartland of Liu Bei's kingdom. Pang Tong attempted to have Liu Zhang assassinated through Wei Yan's pretence of a sword-dance, but was prevented by Liu Bei who saw Liu Zhang as a kinsman, however distant, and instead tried to help fight Zhang Lu when he attacked Liu Zhang.

However, Liu Zhang was persuaded not to send troops to reinforce Liu Bei, and Liu Bei decided no longer to help Liu Zhang and to take the strategically important Fu Pass. At the Fu Pass, Liu Zhang's generals Yang Huai and Gao Pei tried to assassinate Liu Bei, but were caught and put to death by Pang Tong. Liu Zhang then ordered his generals to attack Liu Bei, and as Liu Bei's two armies marched towards Luocheng Pang Tong was ambushed in the Valley of the Fallen Phoenix (落鳯坡), where he was mistaken for Liu Bei because he had been given Liu Bei's white horse. Partly because he was anxious to achieve the same recognition as Zhuge Liang, Pang Tong had ventured hastily into the valley without perceiving the ambush, and so was untimely killed at the age of 35.

Liu Bei was left hemmed in at the Pass, and so Zhuge Liang had to leave Jingzhou to relieve him. Guan Yu|Lord Guan then had to hold the entire region of Jingzhou alone, leading eventually to defeat when Cao Cao and Sun Quan allied to attack Jingzhou from both north and south.

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