Diaochan, whose name is not to be found in official history books, plays an important role in the Romance of The Three Kingdoms. Her story, which is still well-known today, tells how two allies were so blinded by a pretty woman that they became enemies, one intent on destroying the other.
The events of this tale took place during Dong Zhuo's monopolisation of power. One day, during a palace banquet, Dong Zhuo levelled false accusations against Situ Zhangwen, an official. All the eminent officials who had gathered for the feast watched in horror as Situ Zhangwen was dragged outside to be beheaded. Each man feared that the fate of the Han duke might well be his own.
When Prime Minister Wangyun returned to his residence, he was so disturbed by what he had seen at the palace that he was unable to sleep. He went for a stroll in the garden. Suddenly, he heard someone praying. The sound seemed to have come from behind a clump of peony trees. Stepping over to investigate, Wangyun realised that it was Diaochan, a singing girl from his own household.
Diaochan had come to the Wang mansion as a young child and Wangyun had looked upon her almost as if she were his own daughter. He asked her: "What are you doing here in the middle of the night?"
She answered him: "From early childhood, I have benefitted from your kindness and have often wondered how I may one day repay you. Recently you have been so sad and despondent; yet I do not know how to alleviate your suffering. That is why I am sighing. Please tell me how I can help you. I will do whatever I can while I still have the strength!"
Wangyun led Diaochan into an inner room and, having dismissed the servants, went down on his knees before her. Shocked and flustered, Diaochan begged to know what was troubling him. Wangyun spoke to her earnestly: "Our country is in great peril. I think you may be our only salvation. The despot Dong Zhuo wants to see himself enthroned as the Son of Heaven while the court officials can only look on helplessly. I have a plan to end his scheming. With your wit and charm we may be able to drive a wedge between Dong Zhuo and his adopted son Lü Bu. If we can end their alliance, and cause them to fight against each other, we may be able to eliminate them both."
Diaochan agreed at once to do her best. Wangyun took the earliest opportunity to betroth Diaochan to Lü Bu; at the same time presenting her to Dong Zhuo as a concubine. Both Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu became fond of her and could not decide how to settle the matter. As the hostilities grew, Diaochan took every opportunity to add fuel to the fire and the two men became fiercely jealous of each other. Eventually, Wangyun was able to gain Lü Bu's assistance in assassinating Dong Zhuo.
Unfortunately, soon after, both Wangyun and Diaochan were put to death by surviving members of Dong Zhuo's clique.
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