Tàishǐ Cí appellation Zǐyì was a Dōnglái Huáng man. When young he was studious, and served the prefecture as a Memorial Department Scribe. It happened that the prefecture with the province had discord, wrong and right were not yet distinguished, and the one that first reported was taken as good. At the time the province’s report had already gone, the prefecture Administrator was afraid to be after it, and sought someone who could be the envoy. Cí was twenty one years, was selected to go, and morning and night he went on the road, reached Luòyáng, visited Public Carriage Gate, saw the provincial official was first and wished to ask to deliver.
Cí asked him: “You wish to deliver report?”
The official said: “Indeed.”
He asked: “Is the report here?”
[The official] said: “On the carriage.”
Cí said: “The report’s addressee has no mistakes? Fetch it to check it.”
The official yet did not know he was a Dōnglái man, and therefore fetched the report. Cí already in advance harbored a knife, and then cut and destroyed it.
The official jumped and greatly cried: “Someone destroyed my report!”
Cí immediately went into the carriage, and with him said: “If you had not shown the report to me, I also would not have therefore been able to destroy it. This is only good and bad fortune and that is all, and I cannot alone receive this punishment. How about staying silent and together going out and leaving, and be able to survive and easily flee, no need to together be punished.”
The official said: “You for your prefecture destroyed my report, already obtaining your wishes, why do you wish to also flee?”
Cí answered: “Previously I received the prefecture’s dispatch, merely to come observe if the report had been sent or not yet and that is all. I went too far, and so destroyed the report. Now returning, I also fear I for this will meet with reprimands and anger, and therefore also wish to go with you.”
The official believed Cí’s words, and that day they together went. Cí then with him went out of the city, and therefore escaped back to send the prefecture’s report. The province’s party heard this, and again sent official to send report, but the manager because he had a report therefore did not again observe and consider, and the province suffered the fault. Because of this he became well known, but was by the province’s party hated, feared he would receive misfortune from them, and therefore fled to Liáodōng.
Běihǎi Chancellor Kǒng Róng heard and was impressed with him, and repeatedly sent someone to ask after his mother, and also deliver food gifts. At the time [Kǒng] Róng because the Yellow Headscarves were plundering and violent, went out to garrison Dūchāng, and was by the the bandit Guǎn Hài besieged. Cí from Liáodōng returned, his mother said to Cí: “You with Kǒng [Róng of] Běihǎi have not yet met each other, but after you left, he provided for and gave relief with eager diligence, surpassing those of old friends, and now he is by bandits besieged, and you should to to him.” Cí remained for three days, and alone walked directly to Dūchāng.
At the time the encirclement was not yet thick, and in the night he saw a gap, and was able to enter and meet [Kǒng] Róng, and therefore requested troops to go out and cut through the bandits. [Kǒng] Róng would not listen, wishing to wait for outside rescue. It had not yet arrived, but the siege daily pressed. [Kǒng] Róng wished to report emergency to Píngyuán Chancellor Liú Bèi, of the people in the city none could get out, and Cí personally asked requested to go.
[Kǒng] Róng said: “Now the bandit’s encirclement is very thick, and everyone says it cannot be done. Though your will is strong, is it not truly difficult?”
Cí answered: “In the past your governorship poured out will for my aged mother, my aged mother was moved by the treatment, and sent me to attend to your governorship’s emergency, assuredly because I am worth having, and coming can certainly be of benefit. Now everyone says it cannot be, if I also say it cannot be, how is it the righteousness of your governorship’s affection and care, and the intention of my aged mother sending me? The matter is already urgent, may your governorship have no doubts.”
[Kǒng] Róng therefore agreed to this.
Therefore he orderly went with rushes and food, waited for light, and then with quiver and bow mounted horse, leading two riders to follow him, each made a target and carried it, opening door and directly going out. The outside encirclement’s gathered people below were all shocked, and troops and horses together went out. Cí led horse to below the city gates within the moat, set up the carried targets one of each, went out and shot them, and when shooting them finished, he directly entered the gates. The next morning it was again like this. Of the people below the encirclement some rose and some laid down, Cí again set up targets, shot them and finished, and again entered the gates. The next morning he again went out like this, and no one rose, and therefore he whipped horse and directly charged through the encirclement and galloped and went. By the time the bandits were aware, Cí had gone and already passed them, and also shot and killed several men, all at the bow string shot falling, and therefore none dared pursue.
Therefore he arrived at Píngyuán, and persuaded [Liú] Bèi: “I Cí am Dōnglái’s lowly man, with Kǒng [Róng of] Běihǎi’s family am not bone and flesh kin, and also not of his hometown associates, but specially for reputation and ambition became friendly with him, and have the righteousness of dividing up disasters and sharing in misfortunes. Now Guǎn Hài is violent and chaotic, [Kǒng Róng of] Běihǎi is besieged, and I am destitute without support, and danger is in mornings and evenings. As you have benevolent and righteous reputation, and are able to rescue another’s emergency, therefore [Kǒng Róng of] Běihǎi ponders, turning neck and relying on admiration, sending me to brave bare blades, charge through the double encirclement, and through ten thousand deaths personally entrust to you, only for you to save him.”
[Liú] Bèi with restrained appearance answered: “Kǒng [Róng of] Běihǎi knows in the world there is Liú Bèi!” Immediately he sent elite troops of 3000 men to accompany Cí. The bandits heard troops had arrived, broke encirclement and scattered and fled. [Kǒng] Róng then was saved, and increased his impression and honoring of Cí, saying: “You are my young friend.” The matter was completed, and he returned to inform his mother, and his mother said: “I am pleased you by this repaid Kǒng [Róng of] Běihǎi.”
Yáng Province Inspector Liú Yáo with Cí were of the same prefecture, Cí from Liáodōng returned, and had not yet with him met each other. He temporarily crossed the Jiāng, reaching Qū’ē and met [Liú] Yáo, had not yet left, when it happened that Sūn Cè arrived. Someone advised [Liú] Yáo that he could use Cí as his Chief General, but [Liú] Yáo said: “If I employed Zǐyì, would Xǔ [Shào] Zǐjiāng not laugh at me?” He only sent Cí as a scout to observe severity. At the time he alone with one rider soldier encountered [Sūn] Cè. [Sūn] Cè’s following riders were thirty, all of Hán Dāng, Sòng Qiān, and Huáng Gài’s group. Cí then went forward and fought, and happened to with [Sūn] Cè be facing. [Sūn] Cè stabbed Cí’s horse, and grabbed and obtained the hand halberd on the back of Cí’s neck, and Cí also obtained [Sūn] Cè’s helmet. It happened that the two party’s troops and riders both each came, and therefore they separated and scattered.
Cí was about to with [Liú] Yáo together take refuge in Yùzhāng, but he fled to Wúhú, fleeing through the mountains, and declared himself Dānyáng Administrator. At the time [Sūn] Cè had already pacified and settled from Xuānchéng on east, only Jīng on west’s six counties were not yet submitted. Cí therefore advanced to station at Jīng county, establishing garrison and office, and greatly was by Shānyuè joined. [Sūn] Cè personally attacked and suppressed. Therefore he was taken prisoner and brought, [Sūn] Cè then released his bonds, and grabbing his hand said: “Do you recall the time at Shéntíng? If you at the time had captured me what would have happened?”
Cí said: “I cannot judge.”
[Sūn] Cè greatly laughed and said: “In today’s affairs, I will with you share in them.” (1)
Then he was appointed as Commander Below the Gates, returned to Wú to train troops, and was appointed Breaking Charge Internal Cadet General. Later Liú Yáo died at Yùzhāng, and the soldiers and army of over 10,000 men had no one to join, and [Sūn] Cè ordered Cí to go comfort and secure them. (2)
Those around him said: “Cí will certainly go north and not return.”
[Sūn] Cè said: “If Zǐyì abandons me, whom can he join?” He held farewell dinner and sent him off at Chāng Gate, holding arm and taking leave saying: “At what time can you return?”
[Tàishǐ Cì] answered: “Not more than sixty days.” Indeed in that time he returned. (3)
- (1) Wúlì says: Cí at Shéntíng in battle was defeated, and was by [Sūn] Cè captured. [Sūn] Cè previously had heard his reputation, and immediately released his bonds and invited him to meet, to consult and ask on advancing and capturing methods. Cí answered: “I am a defeated army’s commander, and not sufficient to discuss matters.” [Sūn] Cè said: “In the past Hán Xìn settled plans at Guǎngwǔ, and today I Cè decide doubts with the benevolent, why do you decline?” Cí said: “The provincial army is newly defeated, the soldiers lose heart, and if they scatter, it is difficult to again unite them; I wish to go out and announce grace and calm and gather them, but fear it is not in accord with your honor’s intentions.” [Sūn] Cè upright knelt [a sign of respect] and said: “This truly is my original heart’s hope. Tomorrow at noon, I will hope for your return.” The various officers were all doubtful, and [Sūn] Cè said: “Tàishǐ Zǐyì is Qīng Province’s famed scholar, takes faith and righteousness as foremost, and to the end will not cheat me.” The next day, he greatly invited the various officers, carefreely setting up drink and food, setting up pole to watch the shadow [to mark time], and at noon Cí arrived, [Sūn] Cè was greatly pleased, and always with him discussed various military affairs.
- Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: Wúlì says that Cí at Shéntíng in battle was defeated, was by [Sūn] Cè obtained, and this with the base biography is greatly different, and one suspects it is an error.
- Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: [Sūn] Cè asked Cí: “One hears that you in the past for the Administrator robbed the province’s report, attended to [Kǒng Róng] Wénjǔ, visited to request from [Liú Bèi] Xuándé, all with ardent righteousness, as the realm Under Heaven’s wise scholar, but those entrusted did not yet obtain your person. In shooting hook and cutting sleeve, the ancients did not resent. I am one who understands you, do not worry about things not being as you wish.” He sent out instructions: “Dragons wishing to soar, first must ascend small trees.”
- (2) Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states:
- [Sūn] Cè said to Cí: “Governor Liú [Yáo] previously reproached me for serving the Yuán clan in attacking Lújiāng, and this thinking was quite rustic, his reason and forgiveness not sufficient. Why is this? My late father’s troops on hand were over several thousand men, and completely at [Yuán Shù] Gōnglù’s discretion. My ambition is in establishing affairs, and could not but bend my intentions to [Yuán Shù] Gōnglù, in order to ask for my former troops, and the second time going I only obtained over 1000 men and that is all. Yet he ordered me to attack Lújiāng, and at the time the matter was forced, and I could not but go. However afterward he did not observe a servant’s integrity, himself abandoning it to do evil and usurpation matters, and my remonstrants of him were not followed. A man uses righteousness in dealings, and with this great reason, could not but leave, and my dealings with [Yuán Shù] Gōnglù being cut off were from beginning to end like this. Now Liú Yáo has died, and I regret I could not during his lifetime with him together discuss and debate. Now his son is at Yùzhāng, and one does not know Huà [Xīn] Zǐyú treats him, and if their former retainers again depend on and follow him or not. You are their province’s man, and in the past also accompanied in matters, and can go observe his son, and also announce my intentions to their retainers. For retainers happy to come then let them with you together come, and for those not happy to come then comfort and console them. Also observe how [Huà Xīn] Zǐyú’s governorship and regulations appear, and inspect of Lúlíng’s and Póyáng’s people are close and attached to him or not. Your troops on hand, you should decide how many you will command, following your own wishes.”
- Cí answered: “I Cí had an unpardonable crime, but you General have judgment like Huán and Wén, and your treatment surpasses hopes. The ancients repaid life with death, for the time with thorough integrity, only at death did it afterward end. Now all are resting troops, so troops should not be many, and I will command several tens of men, and it will be enough to go and return.”
- (3) Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: [Sūn] Cè first sent Cí, and the commentators were confused, and said Cí could not yet be trusted, some saying he was with Huà [Xīn] Zǐyú of the same province, and feared he would stay with them to make plans, some suspecting Cí would go west to join Huáng Zǔ, or find road to return north, and many said sending hm was a wrong plan. [Sūn] Cè said: “You sir’s speech is all wrong, and my judgement of this is detailed. Although Tàishǐ [Cí] Zǐyì has aura of valor and guts of fierceness, however he is not an unrestrained sort of man. His heart has scholarly practice, his ambitions hold to morality and righteousness, he honors heavily keeping promise, and one whose thoughts can understand him, to the death he will not betray. You sirs do not again worry.” Cí from Yùzhāng returned, and commentators then began to agree. Cí met [Sūn] Cè and said: “Huà [Xīn] Zǐyú has excellent virtue, but is not talented in planning, and has no other schemes, guarding his own and nothing more. Also Dānyáng’s Tóng Zhī himself seizes Lúlíng, falsely claiming he has Imperial Order letter making him Administrator. Póyáng’s people’s commanders separately establish clan divisions, blocking with troops to protect borders, and do not receive [Huà Xīn] Zǐyú’s sent Chief Clerk, saying: ‘We are a separately established prefecture, waiting for Hàn to send a true Administrator to come, and will only welcome him and that is all.’ [Huà Xīn] Zǐyú not only cannot pacify Lúlíng and Póyáng, close to Hǎihūn there is a Shàngliǎo rampart, with five to six thousand families together joining and gathering to form clan squads, only transporting tax grain and cloth to the prefecture and that is all, sending someone for one man cannot even obtain that, and [Huà Xīn] Zǐyú also only watches and nothing more.” [Sūn] Cè clapped hands and greatly laughed, and so had ambition to conquer. Shortly afterward he therefore settled Yùzhāng.
Liú Biǎo’s cousin’s son [Liú] Pán had valor, and repeatedly plundered to Ài and Xī’ān various counties. [Sūn] Cè therefore divided from Hǎihūn’s and Jiànchāng’s left and right six counties, to appoint Cí as Jiànchāng Commandant, with headquarters at at Hǎihūn, and also commander over the various officers to resist [Liú] Pán. [Liú] Pán was cut off and did not again plunder.
Cí was seven chǐ seven cún [~1.78 m] tall, with beautiful beard, muscular arms, good at shooting, and his shots did not miss target. Once he accompanied [Sūn] Cè in suppressing Mábǎo bandits, a bandit in their camps atop the towers went and cursed, with their hands holding the tower beams, Cí drew bow and shot it, the arrow pinning the hand to the beam, and of the encirclement outside’s ten thousand people none did not praise it. His accuracy was like this. Excellency Cáo heard his reputation, and sent Cí a letter, with a box sealed it, when opening and examining it there was nothing said, only containing a Dāngguī [‘should return’] plant. Sūn Quán managed affairs, and as Cí was able to control [Liú Pán], therefore entrusted him with the south’s affairs. At forty one years, Jiàn’ān Eleventh Year  he died. (1) His son [Tàishǐ] Xiǎng’s office reached Yuè Cavalry Colonel. (2)
- (1) Wúshū states: Cí was facing death, and sighed and said: “A man living in the world, should wear a seven chǐ [~1.6m] sword, to ascend Heaven’s Son’s steps. Now my ambition is not yet realized, how can I die?” [Sūn] Quán deeply mourned and lamented for him.
- (2) Wúshū states: Xiǎng appellation Yuánfù, successively was Secretariat and Wú prefecture Administrator.