Outlaws of the Marsh: A Somewhat Less Than Critical Commentary
by David Keffer
Summary of the beginning of the Song Dynasty (960-1229). Emperors (1) Tai Zu (“God of Thunder descended to Earth”), (2) Tai Zong, (3) Zhen Zong, (4) Ren Zong (an incarnation of the “Barefoot Immortal”) with civil affairs aide Bao Zheng and military affairs aide Di Qing.
To summon relief from a plague in 1052 A.D., Ren Zong sends Marshal Hong to find the Taoist Zhang the Divine Teacher to say prayers. Despite warnings, Marshal Hong releases demons, the Thirty-six stars of Heavenly Spirits and seventy-two stars of Earthly Fiends. These 108 demons are to become incarnated as the outlaw heroes of the novel.
During the reign of Emperor Zhe Zong (1086-1101 A.D.), Gao Qiu “The Ball” from Bianliang was skilled with weapons and the football. He was exiled and spent time with the crime boss Liu Shiquan. After an amnesty, he returned to the capital and, due to his skill at football, becomes a retainer for Prince Duan, who becomes Emperor Hui Zong in 1101. At this point, he becomes Marshal Gao, the principle villain. (Thus the story proper starts 49 years after Marshal Hong releases the 108 fiends. Presumably, this gave the fiends time to find human hosts and have the hosts mature to middle age.)
Marshal Gao doesn’t like Arms Instructor Wang Jin. Wang Jin flees with mother to Yanan Prefecture to join Old General Zhong. On the way in Huazhou Prefecture, he meets “Nine Dragons” Shi Jin and trains him in martial arts.
Shi Jin takes control of the manor and prepares against an attack by the bandits of Mount Shaohua.
The chieftains of the bandits of Mount Shaohua are Zhu Wu “the Miraculous Strategist”, Chen Da the “Gorge-Leaping Tiger”, and Yang Chun the “White-Spotted Snake”. Shi Jin defeats Chen Da in battle. Zhu Wu and Yang Chun plead for his release, eventually making friends with Shi Jin. A hunter, Li Ji, steals a letter connecting Shi Jin to the Mt. Shaohua bandits from Shi Jin’s messenger, Wang the Fourth “Bodang’s Equal”, and summons the authorities.
Shi Jin and the Mt. Shaohua bandits kill the constables. Shi Jin burns down his manor and kills Wang the Fourth and Li Ji. They flee to the Mt. Shaohua fortress.
Searching for Arms Instructor Wang Jin, Shi Jin travels to Weizhou and meets Major Lu Da. There Shi Jin meets his first arms instructor Li Zhong, the “Tiger-Fighting General”.
Old Jin and his daughter Jade Lotus are wronged by Master Zheng, “Lord of the West”, a butcher. Lu Da rescues Old Jin and kills the butcher with three punches. Lu Da flees to escape punishment. He finds “Wanted” posted with his face on them in Daizhou.
On the lam, Lu Da meets up with Old Jin and seeks hiding in Squire Zhao’s manor. Lu Da continues to elude authorities by joining a monastery on Mount Wutai. Now, he is “Sagacious Lu”. His violent and irritable personality and his love of wine disturbs the rest of the monastery. Eventually, the abbot sends him away.
Sagacious Lu travels to Peach Blossom Village. Grandpa Liu is being forced to marry his daughter to a bandit of Peach Blossom Mountain, Zhou Tung the “Little King”. Sagacious Lu beats the would-be groom and sends him on his way. The bandits return, led by the chief, who turns out to be Li Zhong, the “Tiger-Fighting General”. As a favor to Sagacious Lu, Li Zhong calls off the wedding. Sagacious Lu visits the Peach Blossom Mountain fortress but is annoyed by the bandits’ stinginess. While they are gone, he steals some gold and silver vessels and departs.
Looking for food, Sagacious Lu travels to Waguan Monastery, which has been taken over by the Buddhist Monk Accomplished Cui “Cast Iron Buddha” and a Taoist Priest Second Son Qiu “Flying Messenger from Hell”. The daughter of Wang Youjin is kept there. Sagacious Lu battles Cui and Qiu, but is outnumbered and flees to the forest. There he meets “Nine Dragons” Shi Jin again. Sagacious Lu and Shi Jin kill Cui and Qiu. They feast in the monastery where everyone has hanged themselves from despair, and accidentally burn the monastery down.
Shi Jin returns to Mt. Shaohua. Sagacious Lu continues traveling to the Eastern Capital. At the Eastern Capital he is given a job taking care of the monastery’s vegetable gardens.
As the vegetable garden keeper, Sagacious Lu gains some groupies including “Rat Crossing the Street” Zhang the third and “Snake in the Grass” Li the fourth. Sagacious Lu also meets Lin Chong the “Panther Head”. Young Master Gao “King of Lechers”, son of Marshal Gao, hassles Lin Chong’s wife, but leaves as Lin Chong appears. Young Master Gao and two friends Fu An “Dried Pecker Head” and Lu Qian conspire to create a scheme in which Gao can seduce Lin Chong’s wife. The scheme fails and Young Master Gao is dying of heartbreak.
Marshal Gao approves a plan to get rid of Lin Chong and restore his son’s health. Lin Chong is tricked into carrying a sword into a military meeting room. He is accused of planning to assassinate Marshal Gao.
In punishment, Lin Chong is tattooed and exiled to Cangzhou. The guards that are to take the prisoner to his place of exile are Dong Chao and Xue Ba. The two guards are bribed by Marshal Gao’s men to make sure Lin Chong dies during the journey. The guards lead Lin Chong into a forest and prepare to kill him.
Sagacious Lu rescues Lin Chong. He would kill the guards but Lin Chong stays him. Sagacious Lu escorts Lin Chong and the guards to Cangzhou, then returns to the eastern capital. In Cangzhou, Lin Zhong is befriended by Chai Jin “Small Whirlwind” who welcomes exiles into his home. Lin Zhong proves his merit by besting Arms Instructor Hong. Lin Zhong eventually proceeds to prison, using Chai Jin’s funds to provide soft treatment from the prison keepers.
Lin Chong meets Li Xiao-er whom he previously befriended in the capital. Lin Chong receives a cushy prison job, manning a storage depot. Lu Qian and Fu An (Marshal Gao’s son’s friend) come from the eastern capital and plot with the prison keepers to kill Lin Chong, because Young Master Gao can’t score with Lin Chong’s wife, until Lin Chong is dead. Lin Chong is forced to kill Lu Qian and Fu An and the head prison keeper. He steals some wine and passes out in a snowstorm.
Chai Jin rescues Lin Chong and writes a letter of introduction for him to the bandits at Liangshan Marsh in Jizhou, headed by Wang Lun “White-Clad Scholar”, Du Qian “Skyscraper”, and Song Wan “Guardian of the Clouds”. En route, Chai Jin meets Zhu Gui “Dry-Land Crocodile”,who leads him to the bandits. Wang Lun recognizes Lin Chong’s merit and is afraid of admitting him lest he lose power to him. He demands a “membership certificate”, a head of a man, from Lin Chong in three days.
For three days, Lin Chong hides out in the woods, but finds no solitary man to kill. He only manages to steal the luggage of Yang Zhi the “Blue-Faced Beast”.
Lin Chong and Yang Zhi battle to a stalemate. They have dinner with the bandits. Wang Lun still plots against Lin Chong, but can’t convince Yang Zhi to stay. Yang Zhi continues to the capital.
Marshal Gao berates Yang Zhi for losing a boatload of stones. Desperate for money, Yang Zhi tries to sell his ancestral sword, but ends up killing a local drunk. He is exiled to Daming. His prison escorts are Zhang Long and Zhao Hu. Governor Liang Zhongshu of Daming recognizes Yang Zhi’s merit. During a joust he offers to give Yang Zhi a military post if he can best Lieutenant Zhou Jin.
Yang Zhi bests Zhou Jin at jousting and archery. Captain Suo Chao “Urgent Vanguard” then jousts Yang Zhi to a draw in a magnificent display of martial skill. Both are given the rank of major by Governor Liang.
The wife of Governor Liang wants him to send great birthday gifts to her father, Cai, the Premier of the eastern capital. The only trouble is that last year the gifts were stolen by bandits en route.
A new magistrate is appointed in Jizhou, Shi Wenbin. His cavalry constable was Zhu Tong “Beautiful Beard” and his infantry constable was Lei Heng “Winged Tiger”. Lei Heng apprehends an outlaw drunk in a temple.
Lei Heng takes his prisoner to Ward Chief Chao Gai “Tower-Shifting Heavenly King”. The prisoner, Liu Tang “Red-Haired Demon”, tells Chao Gai he has a get-rich-quick scheme. Chao Gai pretends Liu Tang is his nephew and frees him from Lei Heng. Liu Tang’s scheme is to steal the birthday gifts being sent from Governor Liang in Daming to his father-in-law Cai, the Premier of the eastern capital.
Still angry at Lei Heng for taking him prisoner, Liu Tang hunts him down and they battle. Wu Yong the “Wizard” stops the fight before Liu Tang triumphs. Wu Yong joins Liu Tang and Chao Gai in planning to steal the birthday gifts.
Wu Yong enlists the aid of three fishermen who are brothers: Second Brother Ruan “Ferocious Giant”, Fifth Brother Ruan “Recklessly Rash”, and Seventh Brother Ruan “Devil Incarnate”. The Taoist Gongsun Sheng “Dragon in the Clouds” (“Single Purity”) arrives at Ward Chief Chao Gai’s house and wishes to become the seventh member of the plan.
The seven men (Chao Gai, Liu Tang, Wu Yong, the three Ruan brothers, and Gongsun Sheng) plot to steal the birthday gifts. It turns out they also need to enlist Bai Sheng the “Daylight Rat” who lives near the route where the gifts will travel.
Madame Cai, Governor Liang’s wife, selects Yang Zhi to guard the birthday gift caravan. Yang Zhi takes the gifts with porters, guards, and Chief Steward Xie on the journey. At Yellow Earth Ridge, the Yang Zhi’s men rebel at his hard pace and collapse. They demand some wine from a passing merchant. The wine is drugged and Chao Gai’s party of 8 steals the birthday gifts. Yang Zhi despairs, knowing he cannot return to Governor Liang, and wanders off. Chief Steward Xie and the others plan to blame the loss of the gifts on Yang Zhi.
Penniless, Yang Zhi meets Cao Zheng “Demon Carver”, a former pupil of Lin Chong. Cao Zheng discourages Yang Zhi from joining Liangshan Marsh outlaws because their leader Wang Lun is a jerk. Instead, he advises Yang Zhi to join the outlaws living in the Precious Pearl Monastery on Two Dragon Mountain in Qingzhou, led by Deng Long “Golden-Eyed Tiger”. On his way there, Yang Zhi meets Sagacious Lu, who, because he helped Lin Chong, was forced to leave the eastern capital by a furious Marshal Gao.
In recounting his exodus, Sagacious Lu says he met Zhang Qing the “Vegetable Gardener” and his wife Sun the “Witch”. Sagacious Lu was already refused entry into Precious Pearl Monastery by Deng Long, who has barred the gates after finding he was no match for Sagacious Lu.
Sagacius Lu and Yang Zhi discuss strategy for entering the monastery by ruse with Cao Zheng. The plan works and they quickly take control of the monastery, killing Deng Long.
Chief Steward Xie and the others return to Daming and blame the loss of the gifts on Yang Zhi. Governor Liang is furious. Premier Cai delivers an ultimatum to the Prefect of Jizhou to capture Yang Zhi and the 8 thieves in 10 days. The prefect in turn passes on the ultimatum to police inspector Ho Tao. Ho Tao’s brother, Ho Qing, comes up with a plan.
Ho Tau captures Bai Sheng with some of the birthday loot and head to local magistrate’s court, in the district where Chao Gai lives. Song Jiang “Timely Rain”, so nicknamed because of his merciful charity to those in need, was a clerk at the court. He learns of Ho Tau’s intent and warns his friend Chao Gai. Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Liu Tang, and Gongsun Sheng grab the loot and flee, heading first for the Ruan brothers, then planning to join the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh.
Song Jiang returns and leads Ho Tau to the magistrate. The magistrates constables, Zhu Tong and Lei Heng, are dispatched to capture Chao Gai. Both Zhu Tong and Lei Heng respect Chao Gai and are intent on letting him escape. When they surround his manor at night, Chao Gai does escape.
Ho Tau gathers 500 men and sets out for Stone Tablet Village where the Ruan brothers live. Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Liu Tang, Gongsun Sheng and the 3 Ruan brothers are chased by Inspector Ho into the marshes. By trickery, battle, fire, and the use of Gongsun Sheng’s magical powers to control the wind, the police force is massacred, with only Ho Tau remaining alive, though captured. They cut off Ho Tau’s ears and release him.
The 7 thieves travel to Liangshan Marsh. There they meet the chieftains Wang Lun, Du Qian, Song Wan, Lin Chong, and Zhu Gui. Wang Lun refuses to allow them to join the outlaw band, but Lin Chong disagrees and kills Wang Lun. The 7 thieves and the members of Liangshan Marsh want Lin Chong to become their leader, but Lin Chong defers.
Lin Chong places Chao Gai, Wu Yong, and Gongsun Sheng as the three top leaders of Liangshan Marsh. Lin Chong takes the fourth seat, followed by Liu Tang, the three Ruan brothers in order of age, Du Qian, Song Wan, and Zhu Gui. These are the first eleven “Outlaws of the Marsh”.
Lin Chong discovers that Marshal Gao’s son continued to pursue his wife, who hung herself in dismay.
Commander Huang An leads 2000 men in an assault on Liangshan Marsh. They are massacred. Lin Chong captures 600 horses. Liu Tang captures Huang An.
Chao Gai orders a raid on a traveling merchant caravan. He demands that no merchant be killed. The raid is a lucrative venture.
Out of pity, Song Jiang marries Poxi, daughter of Mistress Yan, an impoverished widow. Poxi cheats on Song Jiang with his assistant, Zhang Wenyuan. Song Jiang discovers the infidelity but doesn’t care much. He stops visiting her house.
Liu Tang visits Song Jiang with a letter from Chao Gai and gold for him and Zhu Tong, for helping them escape. Song Jiang tells him to keep the gold in Liangshan Marsh; he will come get it when he needs it.
Mistress Yan hassles Song Jiang into spending the night with her daughter Poxi. She gets him drunk and Poxi discovers the compromising letter from Chao Gai to Song Jiang. Poxi threatens to turn Song Jiang in to the authorities. Song Jiang finally loses patience with Poxi and slits her throat.
He tells Mistress Yan he has killed her daughter and Mistress Yan summons the authorities. Tang the Ox, a peddlar, helps Song Jiang flee.
Mistress Yan and Zhang Wenyuan insist that the magistrate prosecute the popular Song Jiang. The father has disowned Song Jiang and cannot be brought in as a blood relative. The magistrate sends Zhu Tong and Lei Heng to arrest Song Jiang. Zhu Tong allows Song Jiang to escape. Song Jiang and his brother Song Qing travel to the manor of Chai Jin, where they are warmly welcomed.
Wu Song decides to return home and visit his brother. Along the way, he is attacked by a huge tiger but he manages to kill it with his bare hands. He is proclaimed a local hero and given the position of constable.
Wu Song meets his brother, Wu the Elder and his sister in law, Golden Lotus. He moves in with them but Golden Lotus tries unsuccessfully to seduce Wu Song. Wu Song has to travel to the eastern capital on business. During this time Ximen Qing, a local dandy, conspires with Mistress Wang to seduce Golden Lotus. The plan proves to be a sustained success, without alerting Wu the Elder.
A fruitseller Qiao Yunge alerts Wu the Elder of his wife’s infidelity. Wu the Elder discovers the lovers in the act but is beaten by Ximen Qing. As he lays in bed recovering, Golden Lotus poisons him to death with arsenic, at Madame Wang’s suggestion. Ximen Qing bribes Coroner Ho with a large sum of money.
Coroner Ho is an upright man. He saves a few of Wu the Elder’s bones from cremation, which provide physical evidence of poisoning. In two months when Wu Song returns, he is visited by his brother’s ghost. He goes to see Coroner Ho who reveals his suspicions. More evidence is obtained from Qiao Yunge. Together they bring the case to court, but the judge is a crony with Ximen Qing and refuses to prosecute.
Wu Song decides to obtain justice himself. He gathers the neighbors, Golden Lotus, and Mistress Wang. He stations soldiers at the door of the house so no one can leave. He then threatens to kill Golden Lotus and Mistress Wang unless they tell the truth. Eventually they confess everything. A confession is written and they thumbprint it.
Then Wu Song kills Golden Lotus, cutting out her heart, liver, and entrails and offering them to his brother’s spirit. Then Wu Song decapitates Golden Lotus. With head in hand, he hunts down Ximen Qing in a tavern and decapitates him too.
Wu Song surrenders himself to the authorities. Everyone in town respects Wu Song as a man of integrity and is grateful to him for killing the tiger. They write up the case in a sympathetic manner. Prefect Chen Wenzhao sentences Wu Song to 40 lashes. Mistress Wang is sentenced to death by slicing while nailed to a wooden donkey.
Wu Song is accompanied by guards to his place of exile. Along the way, they stop at the tavern of Zhang Qing the “Vegetable Gardener” and his wife Sun the “Witch”. Sun likes to drug travelers and make human dumplings out of them. She drugs the guards but Wu Song is wise to her tricks. He traps her but she is saved by her husband, who explains they are all part of the gallant fraternity.
Wu Song arrives in prison in Mengzhou. Although he refuses to bribe the warden or guards, he receives fine treatment, due to the intervention of Shi En “Golden-Eyed Tiger Cub”, son of the warden. Wu Song and Shi En meet and Shi En has a task for Wu Song.
Shi En has lost his mafia business when a newcomer named Jiang Zhong “Gate Guard Giant”, backed by Commandant Zhang, moved in. Shi En entreats Wu Song to get rid of Jiang Zhong. Wu Song proceeds to get drunk and hunt down Jiang Zhong.
Wu Song whips Jiang Zhong easily and sends him packing. Afterward, Wu Song is treated well by Shi En. Word of Wu Song spreads to General Zhang Mengfang, Shi En’s father’s boss. He hires Wu Song into the house. General Zhang is quite pleased with Wu Song and eventually offers one of his bondmaids, Jade Orchid, to Wu Song to wed.
Angry at the loss of income stemming from Jiang Zhong’s dismissal, Commandant Zhang pays General Zhang to frame Wu Song for theft and throw him back in prison. After a copious amount of bribery from both parties, Wu Song is exiled to Enzhou.
He is accompanied by two guards. Not far into the trip, two accomplices arrive and the four attempt to kill Wu Song. He kills all four of them. He vows to return and kill Jiang Zhong, Commandant Zhang, and General Zhang.
Wu Song embarks on a murderous rampage, killing Jiang Zhong, Commandant Zhang, General Zhang, and 5 servants, Jade Orchid, General Zhang’s wife 2 nursemaids, and 3 children. Wu Song flees and finds hiding with Zhang Qing the “Vegetable Gardener” and his wife Sun the “Witch”. They suggest he hide out with Sagacious Lu and Yang Zhi in Precious Pearl Monastery. To get there, they disguise Wu Song as a monk.
Along the way, Wu Song runs into a Taoist priest fooling around with a woman in the temple. For some reason, this enrages Wu Song who kills the priest’s acolyte and starts a battle with the priest.
Wu Song kills the priest Want the “Flying Centipede”. He eventually ends up drunk at Squire Kong’s plaza. Squire Kong gives sanctuary to men of the gallant fraternity. Song Jiang is found there. Two of Squire Kong’s sons, Kong Ming the “Comet” and Kong Liang the “Flaming Star” are also there.
After a brief respite, Wu Song heads off for Precious Pearl Monastery. Song Jiang heads out with an invitation to visit Hua Rong, the military Commandant of Fort Clear Winds. On the way, Song Jiang is ambushed by a band of robbers who live on Clear Winds Mountain led by Yan Shun “Elegant Tiger”, Wang Ying “Stumpy Tiger”, and Zheng Tiangshou the “Fair-Faced Gentleman”. Once they recognize Song Jiang, they treat him as an honored guest.
Wang Ying, a lecher, raids a caravan and captures the wife of Liu Gao, the civil commandant of Fort Clear Winds. Song Jiang persuades Wang Ying to release the woman untouched, promising him a wife later. She returns to her husband and mentions nothing of Song Jiang saving her, claiming rather that Liu Gao’s reputation alone saved her.
Song Jiang heads out for Hua Rong, the military Commandant of Fort Clear Winds.
Hua Rong feasts Song Jiang, during which Song Jiang informs him of how he saved Liu Gao’s wife. Hua Rong informs him that Liu Gao is incompetent and corrupt and his wife is just as bad. Song Jiang advises Hua Rong to try to make peace with Liu Gao.
At a festival, Liu’s wife spots Song Jiang and accuses him of being a bandit who kidnapped her. Liu Gao has him beaten severely. Hua Rong rescues him from Liu’s compound. Liu Gao sends 200 men to retrieve Song Jiang.
Hua Rong tries to spirit Song Jiang away from the conflict and back to the bandits at Clear Winds Mountain. Liu Gao’s men anticipate this move and capture Song Jiang again. Liu Gao sends a report to Murong Yanda, Prefect of Qingzhou. He sends Huang Xin “Suppressor of Three Mountains”, the commander of the prefectural army, to investigate. Huang Xin and Liu Gao capture Hua Rong by deception.
With 150 men, Huang Xin takes Song Jiang and Hua Rong to the prefect as prisoners. Along the way, they are stopped by the Clear Wind Mountain bandits numbering 500, who demand a toll. Yan Shun, Wang Ying, and Zheng Tiangshou best Huang Xin who flees. Liu Gao is captured. Song Jiang and Hua Rong are rescued. Hua Rong kills Liu Gao.
Huang Xin alerts the prefect to the situation. The prefect summons General Qin Ming “Thunderbolt”. Qin Ming takes 500 men to attack the bandits. During battle, all his men are either killed or captured. He too is captured, though treated well by Yan Shun, Hua Rong, Song Jiang and the others. His armor is returned and he is released.
Qin Ming returns to the town only to find someone disguised as him has pillaged the town. Prefect Murong has killed Qin Ming’s wife in response. Qin Ming is forced to join the bandits at Clear Winds Mountain. He tells them he will persuade Huang Xin to join as well.
The Clear Winds Mountain bandits raid Fort Clear Winds. They save Hua Rong’s family and capture Liu Gao’s wife. Wang Ying finally gets Liu Gao’s wife, but Yan Shun kills her. Because Qin Ming’s wife was dead, Song Jiang sponsors a marriage between Qin Ming and Hua Rong’s sister.
Prefect Murong orders a huge force to attack Clear Winds Mountain. Song Jiang has the entire group move out for Liangshan Marsh.
Along the way, they are stopped by bandits at Twin Mountains, led by Lü Fang “Little Duke” and Guo Sheng “Second Rengui”. They battle for a while but all action stops with a miraculous bowshot by Hua Rong. After a brief discussion, the Twin Mountain band agrees to join the Clear Winds Mountain band heading for Liangshan marsh.
Next Song Jiang meets Shi Yong “General Shi”, who has a message for him from his brother, Song Qing. Song Jiang’s father has died. He writes a letter of introduction for the band, then leaves for his brother.
In short, the Chao Gai and the Liangshan Marsh outlaws accept the offer of the other outlaws from Clear Winds Mountain and Twin Mountain to join.
the meantime, Bai Sheng has escaped from prison and joined Liangshan.
Song Jiang arrives at his father’s manor, who is not dead. All of the sudden, there is a general alarm. Someone has come to capture Song Jiang.
Two new constables, brothers Zhao Neng and Zhao De, capture Song Jiang and take him to magistrate Shi Wenbin. The sentence is light because everyone respects Song Jiang. He is exiled to Jiangzhou. Song Jiang and two guards are waylaid on the road by Liu Tang and 50 men. Song Jiang insists he go to exile, because his father asked him to respect the law. Wu Yong and Hua Rong come to reason with him. Song Jiang spends the night at Liangshan Marsh but continues to exile.
On the way, they stop at Li Li’s “Hell’s Summoner” tavern who drugs them. But three travelers save Song Jiang. The three travelers are smugglers, Li Jun “Turbulent River Dragon”, Tong Wei “Dragon from the Cave”, and Tong Meng “River Churning Clam”.
In town Song Jiang meets a medicine peddlar attracting a crowd with weapon tricks. Song Jiang tips the man and is attacked by a stranger.
The medicine peddlar, Xue Yong “Sick Tiger” defends Song Jiang from the brute, Mu Hong the “Unrestrained”. The brute has influence in the town, and forces Song Jiang to seek a place to sleep in a manor outside of town. It turns out to be the manor of the father of the stranger, Mu, who attacked Song Jiang. Song Jiang and his two guards flee and take passage in a ferry boat rowed by “Dog Faced” Master Zhang Heng “Boat Flame”, who intends to kill and rob them himself.
Song Jiang is rescued by Li Jun, Tong Wei, and Tong Meng. Once everyone, including Mu Hong, his brother Mu Chun the “Slightly Restrained”, and Zhang Heng is introduced to Song Jiang, they all treat him like an honored guest. Zhang Heng gives Song Jiang a message to deliver to his brother Zhang Shun “White Streak in the Waves”.
Arriving at Jiangzhou, the prefect Cai Dezhang, son of Premier Cai Jing rules the town in a corrupt manner. Song Jiang treats everyone well at the prison.
Song Jiang meet Zai Dong the “Marvelous Traveler” and Li Kui the “Black Whirlwind” aka “Iron Ox”. Song Jiang lends Li Kui some money for gambling. He loses it but Song Jiang tells him not to worry. Zai Dong, Li Kui, and Song Jiang go out to take a walk along the river, view the scenery, and have a drink or two.
Li Kui first picks a fight with a bunch of fisherman, including Zhang Shun. Then he nearly kills a singing girl by poking her in the head with two fingers.
Song Jiang financially compensates Jade Lotus for her trouble. Song Jiang gets sick, recovers, then gets drunk and writes a rebellious poem on the wall of a tavern. A former deputy prefect Huang Wenbing alerts Prefect Cai to the poem. To escape punishment Song Jiang pretends he is insane. Prefect Cai doesn’t buy it; Song Jiang is beaten and imprisoned.
Due to his magical talents as the “Marvelous Traveler”, Dai Zong is sent as a messenger to Prefect Cai’s father, Premier Cai in the eastern captial to find out what to do. Zhu Gui captures Dai Zong by drugging his wine. Chao Gai and Wu Yong have their friend Xiao Rang “Master Hand”, a master of calligraphy, fake a letter from Premier Cai, demanding that Song Jiang be brought unharmed to the capital, where he can be executed. Another friend Jin Dajian “Jade-Armed Craftsman” will forge the official seal. Xiao Rang and Jin Dajian are persuaded to join the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh.
Wu Yong realizes they forged Premier Cai’s formal seal and not the one he would use with his son. Therefore, Song Jiang and Dai Zong are in danger. The fake letter is detected by Huang Wenbing and Prefect Cai in Jiangzhou. Song Jiang and Dai Zong are hauled out to a public square to be executed. Disguised as merchants, medicine men, and snake charmers, the outlaws of Liangshan marsh and Li Kui rescue Song Jiang and Dai Zong at the last minute. In a crazy bloodlust, Li Kui kills soldiers and civilians indiscriminately.
Hiding in a temple, the outlaws are joined by Zhang Shun, Zhang Heng, Mu Hong, Mu Chun, Xue Yong, Li Jun, Li Li, Tong Wei, Tong Meng, and a couple dozen other men. A total of 29 leaders are present at the “White Dragon Temple Small Meeting”.
Although the bandits number 145 and the soldiers number 6 or 7 thousand, the soldiers are terrified of Li Kui’s bloodlust and Hua Rong’s deadly bow. The soldiers bar the gates to the city and hide inside. Song Jiang wants Huang Wenbing dead.
They enlist the aid of Hou Jian “Long-armed Ape” a tailor. In a concerted effort, the 30 leaders kill all 50 residents of Huang Wenbing’s house, but don’t find Huang Wenbing himself. Then they loot it. Finally Huang Wenbing is captured. At Song Jiang’s order, Li Kui tortures and kills Huang Wenbing.
Song Jiang, Dai Zong, Li Kui, Zhang Shun, Zhang Heng, Mu Hong, Mu Chun, Xue Yong, Li Jun, Li Li, Tong Wei, Tong Meng, and Hou Jian join the Outlaws of Liangshan Marsh.
Traveling back to Mt. Liang, they come through Yellow Gate Mountain. There the bandits of Yellow Gate Mountain accost Song Jiang and his party. The leaders of the Yellow Gate Mountain gang are Ou Peng “Golden Wings Brushing the Clouds”, Jiang Jing the “Magic Calculator” (skilled at math), Ma Lin the “Elfin Flutist”, and Tao Zongwang the “Nine-tailed Tortoise”. These four join the Outlaws of Liangshan Marsh.
They all return to Mt. Liang. Now they number 40 leaders.
Song Jiang leaves alone to bring his father and brother to the fortress. He is spotted and chased by Zhao Neng and Zhao De. He hides in a temple and is protected by a god. Song Jiang has a dream where the Mystic Queen of Ninth Heaven gives him the Three Heavenly Books. In the dream, the Queen orders Song Jiang to be loyal to the Emperor above all else. Song Jiang wakes with the three books. He is rescued by the outlaws. Squire Song and Song Qing move into the fortress.
Gongsun Sheng resolves to visit his mother and his old Taoist master.
Li Kui decides he too wants his mother to move to the fortress.
Song Jiang says that Li Kui can go bring his mother back if he (i) doesn’t drink on the way, (ii) travels alone, and (iii) leaves his battle axes in the fort. Li Kui and Zhu Gui make the trip. Along the way a bandit, Li Gui, posing as Li Kui tries to kill Li Kui. Li Kui has mercy but later discovers Li Gui still wants to kill him. Li Kui kills him and eats him. Li Kui’s brother Li Da, alerts the authorities that Li Kui is back. Li Kui departs carrying his mother on his back. When Li Kui goes to find some water for his mother to drink, she is killed and eaten by a tiger. Li Kui kills four tigers. Later, men take Li Kui and the tiger carcasses to the manor of Squire Cao to celebrate. Li Gui’s wife recognizes Li Kui. They get Li Kui drunk and capture him. Constable Li Yun “Black-Eyed Tiger” escorts Li Kui back to town with 30 soldiers.
Zhu Gui and his brother Zhu Fu “Smiling Tiger” drug the entire group of soldiers and free Li Kui. Li Kui goes on a rampage, killing Squire Cao, Li Gui’s wife, all 30 soldiers, and “a whole row” of bystanders. He spares Li Yun at Zhu Fu’s request. Zhu Gui takes the cart with Zhu Fu’s goods back to Mt. Liang.
Li Kui and Zhu Fu wait for Li Yun to wake up to ask him to join the outlaws of Liangshan Marsh, because he will surely be executed for the crimes Li Kui committed under his charge.
Li Yun and Zhu Fu accompany Li Kui back to Mt. Liang where they join the bandits. Tasks ensuring the well-being of the fortress and its protection from government forces are assigned to everyone.
Dai Zong departs to find out why Gongsun Sheng hasn’t yet returned. On the way Dai Zong meets Yang Lin “Elegant Panther”, who continues the journey with him. In Horse-Watering Valley, they meet Deng Fei “Fiery-Eyed Lion”, Meng Kang “Jade Flagpole”, and Pei Xuan “Ironclad Virtue”. They lead 500 men and want to join the outlaws of the marsh.
In Qizhou, Dai Zong and Yang Lin can’t find Gongsun Sheng. They meet Yang Xiang the “Pallid”, the local warden and executioner. They also meet Shi Xiu the “Rash”. Dai Zong and Yang Lin can’t find Gongsun Sheng and return to Mt. Liang.
Yang Xiang’s father-in-law Master Pan, likes Shi Xiu. Shi Xiu moves in with Yang Xiang and his wife Clever Cloud. He takes over Master Pan’s butcher shop for a few months, until he suspects that Clever Cloud is plotting to get rid of him and he quits.
There was a misunderstanding and Shi Xiu stays. Clever Cloud is committing adultery with a monk named Pei Ruhai the “Preceptor”. They create a method by which Pei Ruhai can visit Clever Cloud on nights when Yang Xiang works late at the prison. Shi Xiu discovers the affair and informs Yang Xiang. Clever Cloud discovers that her husband knows and tells him that Shi Xiu has been making passes at her. Yang Xiang is enraged. Shi Xiu remains true to Yang Xiang. Shi Xiu kills Pei Ruhai and his accomplice Friar Hu.
Yang Xiang apologizes to Shi Xiu. Yang Xiang kills Ying-er, Clever Cloud’s servant, then tortures and kills Clever Cloud. Yang Xiang and Shi Xiu agree to flee to Mt. Liang. Shi Qian, “Flea on a Drum”, a former magistrate, a current graverobber, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (like a flea on a drum) joins Yang Xiang and Shi Xiu.
They travel to Lone Dragon Mt., where the Zhu family Manor is located. They steal a rooster. They get in a fight over it, knock some people out, then are hunted by a hundred men. The three heroes hold off the hundred men, slaying dozens. Shi Qian is captured.
Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu meet Du Xing “Demon Face”. He explains that on Lone Dragon Mountain there is an alliance between three Villages. Zhu Family Village is headed by Lord Zhu and three sons: “Dragon”, “Tiger”, & “Tiger Cub” and an Arms Instructor, Luan Tingyu “Iron Staff”. Hu Family Manor is headed by Squire Hu, son Hu Cheng “Flying Tiger”, and daughter “Ten Feet of Steel”. Li Family Manor is led by Li Ying “Heaven Soaring Eagle” and includes Du Xing. Du Xing uses his influence to get Li Ying to ask Lord Zhu to return Shi Qian. Zhu refuses Li Ying battles Tiger Cub Zhu and is shot by an arrow.
Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu go to Liangshan to get reinforcements. They meet Shi Yong who takes them to see Dai Zong and Yang Lin then Chao Gai and Song Jiang.
Song Jiang and Lin Chong lead 6000 men against Zhu Manor. Song Jiang leads his first attack against Zhu Manor. Song Jiang leads his men into an ambush.
Shi Xiu saves Song Jiang from the ambush. With his trademark accuracy, Hua Rong shoots out the lantern guiding the enemy. In the battle, Huang Xin is captured. Song Jiang goes to Li Ying for help but receives none. The next day, the battle continues. Ten Feet of Steel captures Stumpy Wang. She also holds off Ou Peng. Ma Lin battles Dragon to a standstill. Qin Ming bests Dragon. Qin Ming and Deng Fei are captured. Everyone avoids Li Kui. Lin Chong captures Ten Feet of Steel. Generally, Song Jiang has been defeated.
Wu Yong brings reinforcements and a new strategy.
Meanwhile in Dengzhou, two brother Xie Zhen “Two-Headed Snake” and Xie Bao “Twin-tailed Scorpion” are hunting a roaming tiger. They catch it with poison. Their uncle, Squire Mao, steals the tiger carcass. Squire Mao has the Xie brothers framed and thrown in prison. Prison Keeper Yue Ho “Iron Throat” befriends the Xie brothers. His older sister married Major Sun, who is the brother of Xies’ paternal cousin’s husband. Xie Zhen calls for help from Mistress Gu, the “Tigress”, the wife of the brother, Sun Xin “Junior General”, of Major Sun. Planning a jailbreak, Sun Xin enlists the aid of Zou Yuan “Dragon from the Forest” and Zou Run “One-Horned Dragon”. They break the Xie brothers from prison.
Xie Zhen, Xie Bao, Major Sun, Mistress Gu, Sun Xin, Yue Ho, Zou Yuan, and Zou Run all head for Liangshan marsh. They decide to offer their services to Song Jiang with respect to defeating the Zhu manor, as a sort of entry gift. Sun Li knows Luan Tingyu inside the Zhu Manor. He volunteers to infiltrate.
Hu Cheng agrees that the Hu Manor will abstain from further fighting in exchange for the safety of his captured sister, Ten Feet of Steel.
Sun Li and his party infiltrate the Zhu Manor, through their connection with Luan Tingyu.
The third attack on the Zhu Manor begins. Hua Rong battles Tiger Cub Zhu. Lin Chong battles Dragon. Mu Hong battles Tiger. Yang Xiong battles Tiger Cub. Sun Li fake battles Shi Xiu and captures him.
Sun Li’s party and eight captured outlaws launch a surprise attack during battle. Shi Xiu kills Lord Zhu. Tiger Zhu falls beneath a swarm of outlaw. Li Kui kills Dragon Zhu. Li Kui kills Tiger Cub Zhu. Li Kui goes crazy and kills the entire Hu clan, except Hu Cheng who flees. Song Jiang spares Li Kui punishment for killing the Hu’s because of his other merits in battle. Somewhere in the battle, Luan Tingyu is killed. Also, Shi Qian is freed.
By disguising some outlaws as sheriffs , Song Jiang gets Li Ying and Du Xing out of their manor. They move Li’s family to the outlaw fortress. They destroy the Li Manor. Li Ying has no choice but to join the outlaws.
Ten Feet of Steel is married to Wang Ying.
All told the outlaws add 12 new leaders in Chapter 50, bringing the total to 60. These leaders include: Xie Zhen, Xie Bao, Major Sun, Mistress Gu, Sun Xin, Yue Ho, Zou Yuan, and Zou Run, Li Ying, Du Xing, Ten Feet of Steel, and Shi Qian.
Duties are assigned to the current 60 Chieftains of Liangshan Marsh.
Lei Heng is invited to join the outlaws, but postpones his entry for his mother’s sake.
Lei Heng goes to see the singer, Bai Xiuying. He forgets to bring money and is ridiculed by the singer’s father for not tipping the singer. Lei Heng beats up the father, but the singer is sleeping with the magistrate. Lei Heng is arrested, beaten, and made to stand publicly out in the street, naked in a rack. Lei Heng’s mother come forward to loosen his bonds, but the singer, watching Lei Heng’s humiliation, comes over and starts beating the old woman. Lei Heng kills Bai Xiuying with one drop of the rack.
Zhu Tong is now warden of prisons. Under orders Zhu Tong escorts Lei Heng to Jizhou prison. Zhu Tong allows Lei Heng to escape and join the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh.
Zhu Tong is arrested and sent to Cangzhou, where the Prefect recognizes his merit and has him work as his attendant. The prefect’s 4-year-old son likes Zhu Tong’s beautiful beard. Zhu Tong takes the boy on daily walks.
Lei Heng and Wu Yong try to convince Zhu Tong to join the outlaws. While he is distracted, Li Kui kidnaps and kills the prefect’s son. Zhu Tong chases Li Kui to Chai Jin’s manor.
Zhu Tong agrees to join on the condition that Li Kui not be allowed on Mt. Liang. Li Kui stays with Chai Jin.
Chai Jin’s uncle is being persecuted in Gaotang. Chai Jin and Li Kui travel up there to help out, but Li Kui ends up killing the persecutor, Yin Tianxi, brother-in-law of Prefect Gao Lian, cousin to Marshal Gao. Li Kui flees. Chai Jin is imprisoned.
Mt. Liang sends 8000 men to rescue Chai Jin. Lin Chong kills Capt. Yu Zhi. Qin Ming kills Wen Wenbao. Prefect Gao uses a magic Dragon Sword, to summon a black mist which blinds the outlaws. More than 1000 are killed. Song Jiang looks through the heavenly books for the remedy.
They battle again. Prefect Gao summons the black mist. Song Jiang repels it. Prefect Gao summons a swirling cloud of yellow sand. Song Jiang flees in fear. The outlaws are severely beaten again.
Prefect Gao leads a midnight raid, during which he is shot in the arm.
Wu Yong has a new plan.
Dai Zong and Li Kui go look for Gongsun Sheng. In Qizhou, they discover that Gongsun Sheng is the chief disciple of Luo the Sage. Gongsun asks permission from Luo the sage to help Song Jiang. Luo refuses. At night, Li Kui sneaks in and kills Luo the sage. In the morning, Gongsun Sheng goes to ask permission again. Luo the sage is still alive; he used magic to create an illusion. The night before Li Kui had only cleaved a gourd in two. Because of Li Kui’s actions, Luo the sage allows Gongsun Sheng to help Song Jiang.
Luo the sage creates three flying clouds to carry Li Kui, Gongsun Sheng, and Dai Zong to Gaotang. However, he sends Li Kui’s cloud to the magistrate’s office of Qizhou, where he is dropped on the roof. Li Kui is arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for being a wizard. Five days later, Luo the sage retrieves Li Kui.
Luo the sage teaches Gongsun Sheng the “Divine Method for Summoning the Five Thunderbolts”. Li Kui, Dai Zong, and Gongsun Sheng set out for Gaotang. Along the way, Li Kui meets Tang Long “Gold-Coin Spotted Leopard”.
By the time, Gongsun Sheng, Li Kui, and Tang Long arrive at Gaotang, Prefect Gao has recovered from his arrow wound. The battle begins in earnest again.
Hua Rong defeats Xue Yuanhi. Prefect Gao summons a yellow dust storm filled with serpents and beasts. Gongshun Sheng zaps the bests with a golden ray revealing them to be only paper cut-outs.
The following night an ambush is laid which annihilates Gao’s 300 miracle soldiers and the rest of his army.
Gao puts out a request for reinforcements. The outlaws dress up some of their soldiers as reinforcements, stage a mock battle and capture the city. In a combined effort, Sun Li, Zhu Tong, and Gongsun Sheng trap Prefect Gao. Lei Heng chops Prefect Gao in half.
Chai Jin is rescued. The brigands return to Mt.Liang. Chai Jin and Tang Long are added as Chieftains.
Incensed that his cousin has been slain, Marshal Gao informs the Emperor of the numerous crimes of the outlaws. Marshal Gao begins to gather a force for the first Imperial Attack of Liangshan Marsh. Marshal Gao enlists the aid of General Huyan Zhuo “Two Rods”.
Huyan Zhuo enlists the aid of Han Tao the “Ever Victorious General” and Peng Qi the “Eyes of Heaven General”. They lead 3000 calvary and 5000 infantry.
Chao Gai, Song Jiang, Wu Yong, and Gongsun Sheng devise a strategy to repel the assault. Five bouts led by Qin Ming, Lin Chong, Hua Rong, Ten Feet of Steel, Sun Li will attack in rapid succession. The five outlaws battle the three Imperial generals in various single-handed combats. Ten feet of Steel captures Peng Qi.
On the second day of battle, using linked Calvary, Huyan Zhou and Han Tao strike a victory, wounding several chieftains and killing many outlaws.
Huyan Zhou summons Ling Zhen “Heaven Shaking Thunder”, a long-distance cannon expert. Ling Zhen launches a couple cannonballs into the fort at Duck Bill’s Shore. The outlaws lure Ling Zhen into the river, then capture him.
Peng Qi and Ling Zhen join the outlaws.
Tang Long’s cousin Xu Ning the “Metal Lancer” knows a technique to defeat the linked calvary. Xu Ning owns a wonderful suit of “lion’s fur” armor. Shi Qian steals it to draw Xu Ning to Liangshan Marsh. Tang Long and Xu Ning pursue Shi Qian, hunting for the armor, which has already been given to Dai Zong and taken to the marsh. Yue Ho drives Xu Ning the finals stages to Liangshan Marsh, then drugs him.
Yang Lin brings Peng Qi’s family to the marsh. Xue Yong brings Ling Zhen’s family to the marsh. Tai Zong and Tang Long bring Xu Ning’s family. Li Yun brings five carts of gunpowder and explosives.
Xu Ning joins the outlaws and agrees to teach the art of the metal lance against linked cavalry.
The outlaws launch a massive assault on the Imperial troops. Using Ling Zhen’s cannons, Xu Ning’s metal lances, and sheer numbers, they decisively defeat the Imperial troops, killing more than 5000 and capturing Han Tao.
Huyan cannot return to the capital in failure. He seeks help from Murong Yanda, Prefect of Qingzhou. To get there, Huyan must pass Peach Blossom Mountain, where Li Zhong and Zhou Tong live. The Peach Blossom Bandits steal the horse given to Huyan by the emperor.
Prefect Murong gives Huyan 2000 troops. The Peach Blossom Mountain bandits request aid from the bandits at Two Dragons Mountain, which include Sagacious Lu, Yang Zhi, Wu Song, Shi En, Cao Zheng, Sun the Witch, and Zhang Qing. Sagacious Lu and Yang Zhi battle Huyan, who despairs at the formidable nature of his enemies.
Prefect Murong recalls Huyan to defend the city against raiding bandits from White Tiger Mountain, led by Kong Ming and Kong Liang. Huyan battles Kong Ming and captures him.
Kong Liang meets Wu Song. The bandits of Peach Blossom Mountain, Two Dragons Mountain, and White Tiger Mountain agree to attack Qingzhou.
Kong Liang goes to Mt. Liangshan to entreat the aid of Song Jiang. Song Jiang agrees and leads 20 chieftains and 3000 men to aid Kong Liang.
Using a scheme devised by Wu Yong, the outlaws capture Huyan Zhou. He agrees to join the outlaws and helps capture the town. Qin Ming kills Prefect Murong. Kong Ming and the uncle Kong Bin are rescued. The outlaws return to Liangshan Marsh.
Huyan Zhuo joins the outlaws. The outlaws of Two Dragons Mountain-Sagacious Lu, Yang Zhi, Wu Song, Shi En, Cao Zheng, Sun the Witch, and Zhang Qing-join Liangshan Marsh. The outlaws of Peach Blossom Mountain-Li Zhong and Zhou Tong-join Liangshan Marsh. The outlaws of White Tiger Mountain-Kong Ming and Kong Liang-join Liangshan Marsh, bringing the total to 80.
Sagacious Lu and Wu Song travel to Mt. Shaohua in Huazhou prefecture to invite Shi Jin to join the outlaws. They meet Zhu Wu, Chen Da, Yang Chun of Mt. Shaohua and Yang Wi, an artist. Yang Wi refused Prefect Ho’s advances on his daughter, so was exiled. Shi Jin went to right this wrong and was imprisoned. Sagacious Lu goes to kill the prefect and free Shi Jin and he is also arrested.
Sagacious Lu is imprisoned by Prefect Ho. Zai Dong visits Wu Song at Mt. Shaohua and relates the bad news back to Mt. Liangshan. Song Jiang, Wu Yong, Hua Rong, and Li Ying lead 7000 men against Prefect Ho. The Emperor sends Marshal Su to burn incense on Mt. Huashan. Song Jiang kidnaps Marshal Su and takes the golden hanging bells and imperial incense from him. Disguised as Marshal Su, Song Jiang visits the monastery on Mt. Huashan, and demands to know why the Prefect has not greeted him.
When the Prefect comes, Xie Zhen and Xie Bao kill him. They march into Huazhou and rescue Sagacious Lu and Shi Jin. Jade Branch, the reason that Shi Jin was imprisoned in the first place, has long since committed suicide by jumping into a well.
The bandits of Mt. Shaohua including Shi Jin, Zhu Wu, Chen Da, and Yang Chun, join the outlaws of Liangshan Marsh.
In Xuzhou prefect, on Mt. Mangdang, a new band of outlaws numbering 3000 has arisen, led by a Taoist named Fan Rui “Demon King Who Roils the World”, Xiang Chong “Eight-Armed Nehza”, and Li Gun “Flying Divinity”. Rumor has it that they threaten Mt. Liangshan. Shi Jin, Zhu Wu, Chen Da, and Yang Chun offer to subdue these bandits. However, in the first bout, Shi Jin loses half of his men. Reinforcements arrive and Gongsun Sheng identifies that there is a magic-wielding Taoist in the enemy camp.
Gongsun Sheng directs Song Jiang to deploy the troops in an elaborate formation designed to capture the three leaders of Mt. Mangdang. Fan Rui summons a magical gale that brings a cloud of sand and stone. Gongsun Sheng casts a black cloud around Xiang Chong and Li Gun. They fall into a pit and are captured. Song Jiang offers for them to join Liangshan marsh. They return to Mt. Mangdang and convince Fan Rui to join as well.
The group feasts and returns to Liangshan Marsh. On the way they meet a horse rustler, Duan Jingzhu “Golden Dog”, who had a magnificent horse, White Jade Lion that Glows in the Night, which he intended to give as a gift to Song Jiang. However, the fifth son of the Zeng family near Lingzhou stole the horse.
The Zeng family is headed by Zeng the Elder. He has five sons known as the “Five Tigers” whose given names are Tu, Mi, Suo, Kui, and Sheng. Their arms instructor is Shi Wengong and his assistant is Su Ding. The five tigers have slandered the outlaws in the past.
Chao Gai decides to lead an expedition against the Zeng family and retrieve the horse. Song Jiang asks to lead the force, but Chao Gai insists. Wu Yong advises to wait until an auspicious day to launch the assault but Chao Gai insists that the right time is now. Chao Gai and 20 other outlaws lead 5000 men against the Zeng family.
They meet Zeng Kui leading 800 men. Lin Chong and Zeng Kui fight; Zeng Kui retreats. The forces fight to a standstill. A few days later, two monks from Fahua monastery come to Chao Gai and claim that they have been mistreated by the Zeng family. They offer to help Chao Gai invade the Zeng family complex. Lin Chong senses a trick but Chao Gai does not heed Lin Chong’s advice. Chao Gai’s force is ambushed. Over a thousand men are killed . Chao Gai is shot in the face with an arrow by Shi Wengong. Chao Gai is carried back to Mt. Liangshan. Chao Gai claims that whomever captures Shi Wengong shall replace him as ruler of Liangshan Marsh. Chao Gai dies. Song Jiang becomes the interim leader until Shi Wengong is caught. New ranks and duties in the marsh are assigned. First through seventh ranks are: Song Jiang, Wu Yong, Gongsun Sheng, Hua Rong, Qing Ming, Lü Fang, and Guo Sheng. Duan Jingzhu has officially joined the outlaws.
The mourning period of 100 days must be observed before retaliation against the Zeng family.
A passing monk stops by and tells of a man named Lu Junyi “Jade Unicorn”, one of the Three Remarkable Men of Hebai Province. Wu Yong contrives a plan to lure a man from a wealthy and prominent family of the northern capital, Daming, into their band.
Wu Yong needs a companion for his plan. Li Kui volunteers but Wu Yong is afraid of his recklessness. He allows Li Kui to accompany him on three conditions: that he not drink, that he disguise himself as a Taoist acolyte serving Wu Yong, and he not say a single word. Although he obeys the rules, Li Kui irritates Wu Yong the entire trip.
In Daming, Wu Yong offers to tell fortunes for an outrageous sum. Lu Junyi decides he must be good, and invites him in. Wu Yong predicts that Lu Junyi will dies in 100 days unless he flees 1000 li to the southeast. Lu Junyi has an advisor named Yan Ching the “prodigy”. He is a genius and an albino, which has been covered in tattoos. Yan Qing sees entirely through Wu Yong’s ploy and warns Lu Junyi of the danger of traveling near Liangshan Marsh.
Lu Junyi makes the trip and provokes Song Jiang by carrying banners daring him to challenge him. Li Kui, Sagacious Lu, Wu Song, Liu Tang, Mu Hong, and Li Ying all battle Lu Junyi for a few rounds drawing him deeper into the marsh. Then the three Ruan brothers, Li Jun, and Zhang Shun trap Lu Junyi in the water.
Song Jiang offers the leadership of Liangshan Marsh to Lu Junyi but he refuses. The outlaws allow Li Gu to return to Daming but tell Li Gu that Lu Junyi has joined them. After more than 2 months, Lu Junyi returns to Daming only to discover that Li Gu has taken up with his wife and thrown Yan Ching out on the street.
Li Gu betrays Lu Junyi to Governor Liang, who beats and imprisons him. Cai Fu “Iron Arm”, the Daming Executioner, and his brother Cai Qing “Single Blossom” Yan Qing visits Cai Fu, bringing food to Lu Junyi. Li Gu pays Cai Fu 500 ounces of gold to kill Lu Junyi. Chai Jin visits Cai Fu, asking him to spare Lu Junyi on Song Jiang’s account, and hands over 1000 ounces of gold.
Lu Junyi is exiled to Shamen Island. His guards are Dong Chao and Xue Ba, the same two guards that had been hired to kill Lin Chong during his trip to exile but had been prevented from doing so by Sagacious Lu. Governor Liang pays them to kill Lu Junyi. On the road, Yan Qing rescues Lu Junyi and kills Dong Chao and Xue Ba.
The bodies are discovered. Police capture Lu Junyi. Yan Qing resolves to go to Liangshan Marsh and request help in rescuing Lu Junyi. On the way he runs into Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu. Yang Xiong takes Yan Qing to Liangshan Marsh. Alone Shi Xiu proceeds to Daming. There he sees that the Cai brothers, under order of Governor Liang, are about to execute Lu Junyi. Shi Xiu shouts from a window that all the men of Liangshan marsh have them surrounded. He kills a dozen men, grabs Lu Junyi and flees.
Shi Xiu and Lu Junyi are captured by Governor Liang. They present Governor Liang with 2 options: either free Shi Xiu and Lu Junyi or be destroyed by Song Jiang and the outlaws of Liangshan marsh. Wu Yong puts up flyers all over town with a similar message. Governor Liang consults the newly appointed Prefect Wang, who says to postpone the execution of the criminals until military reinforcements arrive. Governor Liang consults his Generals Wen Da and Li Cheng. Along with Suo Chao “Urgent Vanguard” (who in Chapter 13 jousted with Shi Jin).
The outlaws mount an assault. Li Kui says that he “likes to kill” and leads the vanguard. Suo Chao deploys 15,000 men. The first day of battle favors the outlaws. On the second day, Wen Da brings reinforcements. Suo Chao and Qin Ming battle to a standstill. Han Tao shoots Suo Chao in the arm with arrow. The second days also ends in victory for the outlaws and they arrive at the barred gates of the city. Wang Ding takes a message to Premier Cai in the eastern capital asking for reinforcements.
Premier Cai consults with Tong Guan Chancellor of Military Affairs in the eastern capital. A local guard, Xuan Zan the “Ugly Son-in-law”, suggests Guan Sheng the “Big Halberd” as a general to lead a rescue of Daming. Guan Shen and Hao Siwen “Wild Dog” agree to the task. Guan Sheng, Hao Siwen, Xuan Zan, and Duan Chang lead a force of 15,000 men to attack Liangshan Marsh while half the outlaws’ troops are at Daming.
Song Jiang orders an orderly retreat from Daming to Liangshan.
Zhang Heng plans a midnight raid to capture Guan Sheng. It fails and they are captured. The Ruan brothers plan a secret rescue mission. Guan Sheng also captures the 7th Ruan brother.
Song Jiang arrives with reinforcements. Hua Rong battles Xuan Zan. Lin Chong and Qin Ming battle Guan Sheng. Huyan Zhou tricks Guan Sheng into thinking that he will betray the outlaws. Huang Xin and Huyan Zhou battle and Huang Xin pretends to have been killed. Huyan Zhou leads Guan Sheng on a false midnight raid, during which Guan Sheng is captured. Ten Feet of Steel captures Hao Siwen. Qin Ming and Sun Li capture Xuan Zan. Guan Sheng, Qin Ming, and Xuan Zan join the outlaws. The Imperial soldiers are given the choice of joining the outlaws or returning to the eastern capital.
Wu Yong suggests they immediately renew their attack on Daming. Guan Sheng battles Suo Chao. In a ruse devised by Wu Yong, a pit is dug and covered in the night by snowfall. Suo Chao is captured in this pit.
Suo Chao joins the outlaws. They attack Daming but can’t break inside. The ghost of Chao Gai tells Song Jiang to retreat for the winter. Song Jiang falls ill. Zhang Shun travels to find a doctor. Along the way he is robbed and dumped in the river by murderous boatmen, Zhang Wang the “River Blockade Demon” and “Oily Mudfish” Sun the fifth. Zhang Wang wants all of Zhang Shun’s money and kills Sun the fifth. Zhang Shun swims to safety and meets “Lightning” Wang Dingliu and his father. Zhang Shun finds the doctor, An Daoquan, who takes Zhang Shun to a whorehouse to visit his favorite prostitute, Clever Pet Li. Dr. An gets drunk and passes out. Zhang Wang comes to spend some of his stolen money on Clever Pet Li. Zhang Shun is upset. He kills the bawd of the house with a cleaver. Next he kills two servants and Clever Pet Li with an axe. Later he dumps Zhang Wang in the river. He blames the whole crime on Dr. An, who is now left with no choice but to flee to Liangshan Marsh. On the way, Wang Dingliu joins them. Further on, they meet Dai Zong who speeds ahead with Dr. An. Dr. An heals Song Jiang in 10 days. An Daoquan and Wang Dingliu join the outlaws. Song Jiang and Wu Yong discuss strategy for rescuing Shi Xiu and Lu Junyi from Daming.
Word reaches the outlaws the Premier Cai in the eastern capital would like to offer the outlaws amnesty and official posts. For this reason, Shi Xiu and Lu Junyi have not been executed.
Dozens of outlaws assume various disguises and infiltrate Daming for the New Year’s Lantern Festival. From inside and out, outlaws launch a surprise attack. Prefect Wang dies. Shi Xiu and Lu Junyi are freed. Li Gu and Lu Junyi’s wife are captured. Governor Liang, Wen Da,and Li Cheng flee the city.
Lu Junyi, Yang , Cai Fu, and Cai join the outlaws. Lu Junyi kills Li Gu and his wife.
Governor Liang reports the defeat to Premier Cai who no longer wants amnesty. Prefect Cai suggests to the Emperor that Shan Tinggui the “Water General” and Wei Dingguo the “Fire General”, commandants of Lingzhou, lead the third imperial attack on Liangshan Marsh.
Guan Sheng offers to lead 5000 men to defeat the third imperial attack. Li Kui wants to go to battle as well. Upon pain of death, Song Jiang forbids him. Li Kui goes anyway. Li Kui kills Han Bolong, an ally of Liangshan Marsh. Li Kui picks a fight with Jiao Ting the Merciless, a wrestler. Jiao Ting best Li Kui in the fight. Li Kui and Jiao Ting hit it off. They agree to travel to Withered Tree Mountain in Kouzhou prefecture to invite Bao Xu the “God of Death” to join the outlaws of Liangshan Marsh.
Guan Sheng confronts Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo. Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen are captured. Lin Chong and Yang Zhi save the day.
As prisoners, Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen are set on the road to the eastern capital. Their caravan is blocked by Li Kui, Jiao Ting, and Bao Xu. The prisoners are freed.
Guan Sheng defeats Shan Tinggui in battle. Shan Tinggui agrees to join the outlaws. While Wei battles Guan Sheng, Li Kui, Jiao Ting, and Bao Xu enter the city and pillage it. Wei Dingguo surrenders to Guan Sheng.
Shan Tinggui, Wei Dingguo, Jiao Ting, and Bao Xu join Liangshan Marsh.
Duan Jingzhu went north with Yang Lin and Shi Yong to buy 200 horses. On the way back, they were stolen by Yu Baosi the “Spirit of the Dangerous Road” and taken to the Zengtou Village.
The Zeng family and the outlaws each devise various military strategies. Zeng Tu is killed in battle. Li Kui is shot in the leg. Qin Ming is stabbed in the leg. Zeng Suo is killed that night by Xie Zhen. Zeng the Elder requests peace. Song Jiang does not want to settle this amicably but Wu Yong insists that it is proper. Song Jiang demands the return of the horse, White Jade Lion that Glows in the Night.
The Zeng family plans a midnight raid. The raid fails. Zeng the Elder hangs himself in despair. Zhu Tong kills Zeng Mi. Zeng Kui is trampled to death. Yang Zhi and Shi Jin kill Su Ding. Lu Junyi captures Shi Wengong and the horse. Song Jiang has Zeng Sheng and the entire remaining Zeng family executed. Shi Wengong is sacrificed to Chao Gai’s spirit.
Song Jiang tries a final time to give up command of the outlaws to Lu Junyi but the outlaws refuse to accede to his wish. Yu Baosi joins the outlaws.
The outlaws need grain. Song Jiang says that he will attack Dongping and Lu Junyi will attack Dongchang. Whoever returns first with grain will lead the outlaws. Governor Cheng Wanli and Dong Ping “General Two Spears” defend Dongping. Yu Baosi and Wang Dingliu bring a request for grain. Dong Ping beats them and sends them away. Shi Jin tries to sneak into town but is betrayed by a prostitute. Mistress Gu sneaks in and tells Shi Jin in prison to plan a jailbreak. Shi Jin breaks out of jail on the wrong night. Song Jiang attacks the town. They capture Dong Ping and convert him to their cause. The outlaws take Dongping. Dong Ping kills Governor Cheng.
In Dongchang, Li Junyi has suffered two defeats at the hands of General Zhang Qin the “Featherless Arrow” and his aides Gong Wang the “Flowery-Necked Tiger” and Ding Desun the “Arrow-Struck Tiger”. In single-handed combat, Zhang Qin throws stones to defeat Hao Siwen, Xiang Chong, Xu Ning, Yan Shun, Han Tao, Peng Qi, Xuan Zan, Huyan Zhuo , Liu Tang, Yang Zhi, Zhu Tong and Lei Heng, Guan Sheng, Dong Ping, and Suo Chao-fifteen commanders in all. Liu Tang is captured. Ding Desun and Gong Wang are captured.
The following day through a ruse devised by Wu Yong and magic cast by Gongsun Sheng, Zhang Qin is captured and Dongchang is taken. Many of the chieftains want to kill Zhang Qin, who humiliated them, but Song Jiang invites him to join the outlaws. Zhang Qin agrees to join the outlaws, and suggests that the veterinarian, Huangfu Duan the “Purple Beard” join as well.
With Ding Desun, Gong Wang, Zhang Qin, and Huangfu Duan joining, there are now 108 chieftains of Liangshan Marsh. However, one of them, Chao Gai,is already dead.
The outlaws celebrate that all 108 of them are together. The year is 1121 A.D. A stone is sent from heaven with their names inscribed on it. At the party, Li Kui gets drunk and kicks over the table in frustration, when Song Jiang speaks of amnesty. Song Jiang orders Li Kui killed, but is talked out of it. Song Jiang decides to go to the eastern capital to view the Lantern Festival.
Song Jiang, Chai Jin, Shi Jin, Mu Hong, Sagacious Lu, Wu Song, Zhu Tong, Liu Tang, Li Kui, and Yan Qing, Dai Zong decide to travel to the eastern capital. Chai Jin sneaks into the palace and removes Song Jiang’s name from the “Four Most Wanted” list. Song Jiang arranges a meeting with Li Shishi, a prostitute favored by the emperor. Shi Jin and Mu Hong get drunk, sing rebellious songs, and are sent home by Song Jiang.
During a second meeting with Li Shishi, the emperor arrives and Song Jiang, Chai Jin, and Yan Qing are forced to hide. Marshal Yang arrives and spots Li Kui. Li Kui throws a chair or two at Marshal Yang then starts running amuck in the streets. Yan Qing, Shi Jin, Mu Hong, Zhu Tong, Liu Tang, Sagacious Lu, and Wu Song manage to fight to get Li Kui outside the city.
Sensing trouble, Wu Yong had brought 5000 men to the edge of the city. They return to Liangshan Marsh with Song Jiang. Yan Qing, now Li Kui’s best friend, is left behind to find Li Kui, who has since vanished. Li Kui grabs his axes and heads off to attack the eastern capital alone.
Yan Qing and Li Kui flee the city. At one manor along the way, Li Kui pretends to be a priest and exorcises a demon from the squire’s daughter by hacking her to pieces. At a second manner, a Squire claims Song Jiang came by and stole their daughter away. At Liangshan Marsh, Li Kui confronts Song Jiang. Song Jiang says he is innocent but Li Kui bets his head that he is guilty.
Song Jiang, Chai Jin, Yan Qing, and Li Kui return to the manner of Squire Liu. Song Jiang is proved innocent. In penance, Li Kui must hunt down the true captors. They turn out to be Wang Jiang and Dong Hai of Ox Head Mountain. Li Kui kills everyone at Ox Head Mountain except the girl. She is rescued.
Yan Qing wants to go to Tai’an Prefecture to participate in a wrestling competition against Ren Yuan the “Sky-Supporting Pillar”. Yan Qing and Li Kui go. Yan Qing wins the wrestling match, but Ren Yuan’s groupies steal the trophies. Enraged, Li Kui goes on a killing rampage. Lu Junyi has followed with 1000 troops to avoid having a chieftain captured. Li Kui disappears. Mu Hong goes in search of him and finds him pretending to be a magistrate dispensing justice in a rural court.
The Emperor agrees to grant amnesty to the outlaws. Marshal Gao is opposed. Marshal Chen Zhongshan delivers the announcement.
Marshal Chen, accompanied by Premier Cai’s man, Majordomo Zhang, and Marshal Gao’s man, Captain Li arrives at Liangshan Marsh. They behave rudely because none of them really believe that the amnesty is a good idea. Wu Yong advises first defeating the Empire militarily again before accepting amnesty. Ruan the Seventh drinks the imperial wine and replaces it with crude brew. Li Kui assaults Marshal Chen and tears up the amnesty.
Marshal Chen and company returns to the eastern capital and reports to Premier Cai, Marshal Gao, Marshal Yang, and Chancellor of Military Affairs Tong Guan. Tong Guan resolves to lead a punitive expedition against Liangshan Marsh.
Tong Guan leads 100,000 men against Liangshan Marsh. Wu Yong devises a complicated defense involving nearly all of the chieftains. Qin Ming kills Chen Zhu, one of Tong Guan’s deputies.
In the second clash, Tong Guan is not disciplined. His army is splintered by the wily tactics of the outlaws. Ma Wangli is killed by Lin Chong. Wang Yi is killed by Suo Chao. Han Tianlin is killed by Dong Ping. Wu Bingyi is killed by Shi Jin. Li Ming is killed by Yang Zhi. Lu Junyi captures Feng Mei. Li Kui kills Duan Pengju. Zhang Qin kills Zhou Xin. The only imperial leaders to escape are Tong Guan and Bi Sheng. Two thirds of the imperial forces are slaughtered.
Feng Mei is released with a message to the emperor to give them a favorable amnesty.
Tong Guan, Si Sheng, and Feng Mei return to the capital. Gao gives a false report of the disastrous defeat. Gao agrees to lead a new assault, with 130,000 men, 10 famous commandants, 2 generals, 1 admiral, and a naval component. Dai Zong and Liu Tang go to the capital to spy and report these developments.
Zhang Qin and Dong Ping lay a small ambush on the army en route. Gao’s army pillages as they go, much to the detriment of the local people. The army arrives at Liangshan Marsh. Huyan Zhou kills Jing Zhong. Xiang Yuanzhen shoots Dong Ping in the arm. Zhang Heng captures Dang Shixiong.
Gao summons Wen Huanzhang to provide military strategies. The second day of battle begins. Huyan Zhou captures Han Cunbao. Zhang Qin wounds Mei Zhan.
Song Jiang treats Dang Shixiong and Han Cunbao well. He expresses his desire for a real amnesty and sends them back to Marshal Gao. Marshal Gao is furious and sends them back to the capital to be punished.
In a naval battle, Dragon Dream Liu is captured by Li Jun. Niu Bangxi is captured by Zhang Heng. Dang Shiying dies in a swarm of arrows.
Intending to draw the bandits out and murder Song Jiang, Marshal Gao delivers a new amnesty notice.
Gao has changed the wording of the Emperor’s amnesty to apply to everyone except Song Jiang. The outlaws reject it.
Marshal Yang sends reinforcements under the command of General Qiu Yue and General Zhou Ang. Marshal Gao decides to build some large ships. The local populace suffers under the strain of meeting the construction deadlines. The outlaws sabotage and burn the shipyards and the fodder depot. In a surprise attack, Zhang Qin wounds Qiu Yue.
In the winter, Marshal Gao launches a huge naval attack, which meets with disaster. Zhang Shun captures Marshal Gao. Yang Lin kills Qiu Yue. Mei Zhan, Xu Jing, Wang Wente, Yang Wen, Li Congji and are captured. Ye Chun and Wang Jin are killed.
Gao is feasted. He promises Song Jiang amnesty. He drinks and says that he is the best wrestler. Yan Qing whips him easily. Song Jiang sends Xiao Rang and Yue Ho with Marshal Gao to speak to the emperor.
Expecting treachery from Marshal Gao, Yan Qing and Dai Zong travel to the eastern capital to alert the emperor to the true state of affairs. They enlist the aid of the emperor’s prostitute Li Shishi. and Marshal Su. Yang Qing visits the emperor in Li Shishi’s room. He also relays his message to Marshal Yu. Then Yang Qing and Dai Zong rescue Xiao Rang and Yue Ho from Marshal Gao’s house. They return to Liangshan Marsh.
The Emperor grants amnesty to the outlaws. Marshal Su brings the amnesty to Liangshan Marsh. Song Jiang allows the men to either stick with him or resign. Several thousand resign but even more remain. They march to the eastern capital and are feasted by the emperor.
Tong Guan, Chancellor of Military Affairs, first connives to have the outlaws disbanded. They refuse. Then he advises the emperor to have the 108 leaders executed.
The four corrupt ministers: Marshal Gao, Marshal Yang, Tong Guan, and Premier Cai have kept the seriousness of the border invasions by Liao Tartars from the emperor. Marshal Su recommends that Song Jiang lead the former outlaws against the Liao Tartars.
On the way, one of the outlaws kills a crooked government official who was stealing the outlaws supplies and slandering them. Song Jiang is forced to have the outlaw, his own man, executed.
They engage the Tartars in battle at Tanzhou first. On the first day, Aliqi, a Tartar general, is killed by Zhang Qin.
Two of the King of the Liao Tartars nephews lead 10,000 men in reinforcements. The first, Yelü Guozhen, is killed by Dong Ping. The second, Yelü Guobao, is killed by Zhang Qin. The reinforcements are scattered.
Through a combined land and water ruse, the outlaw brigade takes Tanzhou. The Liao vice-minister, Dongxian Bojin, and a general, Yaor Weikang, flee.
The emperor sends Zhao Anfu with reinforcements.
Song Jiang and advisor, Wu Yong, lead 30,000 men to Pinggu county of Qizhou. Lu Junyi and advisor, Zhu Wu, lead 30,000 men to Yutian county of Qizhou. Four sons of Prince Yelü Dezhong battle the outlaws. The famous Tartar archer, Tianshanyong, shoots Zhang Qin in the neck. Lu Junyi kills Yelü Zhonglin. His forces are scattered and try to regroup at night. Yan Qing shoots Yelü Zhongyun in the nose.
The outlaws regroup to attack Qizhou. Shi Xiu and Shi Qian sneak into Qizhou. Lin Chong kills the Tartar general, Baomisheng. Xu Ning kills Tianshanyong. Suo Chao kills Yaor Weikang. Shi Jin killed Chu Mingyu and Cao Mingji. Shi Xiu and Shi Qian set fire to Qizhou. Prince Yelü Dezhong and vice-minister Dongxian Bojin retreat to Youzhou. Song Jiang takes Qizhou.
The Liao King agrees to a new plan presented by Minister Ouyang.
Ouyang suggests that the Liao King try to peacefully convert Song Jiang to the Liao army. Commander-in-chief Wuyan suggests attacking Song Jiang. The Tartars offer to make Song Jiang commander of their army. Wu Yong advises Song Jiang that they will never find high office in the Song Dynasty due to the four corrupt ministers surrounding the emperor. Song Jiang refuses to go over to the Liao Tartars.
Song Jiang and Gongsun Sheng travel to visit Gongsun Sheng’s master, Luo the sage. Luo give Song Jiang an ambiguous prophecy.
Wu Yong develops a ruse to take Bazhou. Song Jiang pretends to come over to the Liao. Song Jiang takes the Bazhou and allows the King’s brother-in-law and his ministers to leave.
In the Tartar capital, Yanjing, the Liao King is getting worried. General Ho agrees to battle the outlaws.
General Ho intends to lure the outlaws into a dead end stony valley and starve them to death there. Ignoring the advice of Wu Yong and Zhu Wu, Song Jiang and Lu Junyi get the army ambushed and cut in half. Guan Sheng battles General Ho. Lu Junyi gets lost with 5000 men.
Xie Zhen and Xie Bao pretend to be hunters and meet up with Liu the second and Liu the third, natives of the area, who agree to help them locate Lu Junyi.
Song Jiang comes to Lu Junyi’s rescue. Lin Chong kills Ho Chai. Li Kui kills Ho Yun.
At the next battle, General Ho is killed.
Commander-in-chief Wuyan’s son, Yanshou, employs a bunch of hoity-toity military deployments. Huyan Zhou captures Yanshou. Qin Ming kills Security General Li.
Qiong Yaonayan and Kou Zhenyuan lead 200,000 Tartars against Song Jiang. Hua Rong and Shi Jin kill Qiong Yaonayan. Sun Li kills Kou Zhenyuan.
A huge battle between the outlaws and the Tartars takes place. Kong Liang, Li Yun, Zhu Fu, Shi Yong, Du Qian, and Song Wan are injured. Li Kui is captured. Wuyan trades Li Kui for his son, Yanshou.
Song Jiang retreats; he can’t fathom the Tartar deployment. Wang Wenbin brings winter clothing from the emperor. He pretends to be a hotshot and gets killed by Quli Chuqing.
The Mystic Queen of the Ninth Heaven visits Song Jiang a second time, revealing the strategy to defeat the Tartars.
The battle commences. Guan Sheng kills Wuyan. Wu Song kills Yelü Dezhong. Wang Ying captures Dalibo. Lu Junyi captures Yelü Dehua. Zhu Tong captures Quli Chuqing. The capital Yanjing is surrounded and ready for the taking.
The Tartars surrender. Chu Jian travels to the eastern capital and bribes the four corrupt ministers. They convince the emperor to allow the Liao Tartars to exist as a tribute state.
Song Jiang’s outlaws are recalled to the eastern capital.
Sagacious Lu and Song Jiang decide to go to visit the abbot at Wutai, where Sagacious Lu became a monk.
Sagacious Lu and Song Jiang visit the abbot of Wutai and receive predictions of their future.
The outlaws return to the capital and are marginally rewarded. Gongsun Sheng quits the gallant fraternity and leaves to study with Luo the sage. Li Kui suggests they return to a life of banditry in Liangshan Marsh.
The ministers convince the Emperor to forbid the outlaws from entering the city walls. At the lantern festival, Yan Qing, Yue Ho, and Li Kui sneak inside to get a good view. There, they learn of Fang La, a bandit who has taken over 8 prefects in the south and declared himself king.
Song Jiang asks Marshal Su to have the emperor send the outlaws down to battle Fang La. The emperor agrees and the outlaws are sent as the vanguard of a main force controlled by Military Governor Zhang. All outlaws go except Jin Dajian, Huangfu Duan, Xiao Rang, and Yue Ho, whom the emperor and ministers ask to remain in the capital, and Gongsun Sheng who has become a hermit.
The outlaws first must cross the Yangzi. Zhang Shun scouts ahead and discovers a boat from Fang La to a local land-owner. Zhang Shun finds out the current status and kills the boatmen. He reports to Song Jiang. They pretend to be the Captain from Fang La and invade the manor of Chen Guan, killing him and his family. Chen Guan was to deliver grain and 5000 soldiers to Runzhou. The outlaws pretend to deliver this shipment as well.
While they are in dock, word arrives to Fang La’s Minister Lü Shinang to expect trouble. Before, he can react, the outlaws burst forth from the boat swarming the city. Minister Lü is defeated, but three outlaws are killed: Song Wan, Jiao Ting, and Tao Zongwang.
Fang La sends reinforcements under general Xing Zheng.
Guan Sheng kills Xing Zheng. Song Jiang leads 13 senior and 33 junior outlaw leaders to attack Changzou and Suzhou. Lu Junyi leads 14 senior and 33 junior outlaw leaders to take Xuanzhou and Huzhou. The remainder control the armada.
Minister Lü has retreated to Changzhou, defended by Governor Qian and two generals Jin Jie and Xu Ding. The battle begins. Gao Keli shoots Han Tao in the cheek. Zhang Jinren kills Han Tao. Zhang Jinren kills Peng Qi. Guan Sheng kills Governor Qian. Li Kui kills Gao Keli. Bao Xu kills Zhang Jinren.
Jin Jie and his wife Jade Orchid decide to betray Minister Lü.
Lu Junyi attacks Xuanzhou. Lu Junyi takes it but loses: Zheng Tianshou, Cao Zheng, and Wang Dingliu.
Song Jiang falls unconscious.
The forces of Minister Lü flee to Suzhou. In battle, Xu Ning kills Minister Lü. Suzhou is surrounded by water, and requires a naval assault.
Spying the local waterways, Li Jun, Tong Wei, and Tong Meng meet four local bandits under the leadership of Fei Bao the Red Beard Dragon. Along with the four bandits and 60 fishermen, Li Jun captures several military ships carrying 3000 suits of armor. Pretending to deliver the armor, the outlaws gain entry to Suzhou. Wu Song kills Fang Mao. The rebel army is routed. Suzhou is taken. Xuan Zan is dead.
In a naval assault on Changsu, Shi En and Kong Liang drown.
The outlaws set their sights on Xiuzhou prefecture. General Duan Kai surrenders Xiuzhou without a fight. Next the outlaws eye Hangzhou, held by Fang La’s son, Fang Tianding. Meanwhile, Lu Junyi takes Huzhou and proceeds to move toward Hangzhou, though Lone Pine Pass stands in the way. Chai Jin and Yan Qing go to spy at Hangzhou. Zhang Heng and Ruan the 7th agree to lead a naval attack on Hangzhou. Dr. An is called back to tend to the emperor.
Advancing on Hangzhou, Hao Siwen is captured and executed. Xu Ning is hit with a poisoned arrow, from which he will die. Zhang Shun tries to sneak into Hangzhou from the river and he is killed. Song Jiang goes to the lake shore to mourn Zhang Shun.
While Song Jiang mourns Zhang Shun, the rebels attack but are fought off. Dai Zong arrives from Lu Junyi’s camp and relates that Lone Pine Pass has been taken but that Zhou Tong, Zhong Qin, and Dong Ping were killed and Li Zhong was wounded.
Back in Song Jiang’s column, Sagacious Lu battles Deng Yuanjue “Buddha of Precious Light”. In the ensuing battles, Lei Heng and Gong Wang are killed. In the next battle, Suo Chao and Deng Fei are killed. Liu Tang and Bao Xu die trying to take the city. The outlaws finally take the city by hiding in rice barges. The ghost of Zhang Shun borrows his brother, Zhang Heng’s, body and kills Fang La’s son, Fang Tianding.
Ruan the Seventh arrives at Hangzhou and relates that the armada was caught in a gale and that Hou Jian and Duan Jingzhu drowned.
Song Jiang and Wu Yong devise a plan to take Muzhou and Shezhou, after which they will attack Fang La directly.
After Xiuzhou, Chai Jin and Yan Qing had gone to spy. Pretending to be scholars, they meet up with Fang La. By obsequious flattery, Chai Jin becomes a close advisor to Fang La.
In taking Muzhou, a naval battle is engaged. To avoid capture, Ruan the second kills himself. Meng Kang is killed. Xie Zhen and Xie Bao plunge down a cliff during an attempt to sneak into a pass.
Despite Wu Yong’s warning, in an attempt to reclaim the Xie brothers’ bodies for proper burial, Song Jiang leads his men into an ambush.
Wu Song sends reinforcements to stave off the ambush. Shi Bao asks Fang La for more troops, but Fang La declines. Chancellor of Military Affairs Tong Guan arrives from the eastern capital.
Hua Rong kills National Advisor Deng Yuanjue.
Fang La send Bao Daoyi, a magic-casting Taoist, to help defend Muzhou. Bao Daoyi kills Wang Ying and Ten Feet of Steel. When things look bad, a host of golden-clad heavenly warriors appear, led by Shao Jun. Bao Daoyi badly wounds Wu Song. Li Gun and Xiang Chong die in battle. Ling Zhen kills Bao Daoyi with a cannon. The outlaws take Muzhou. In the surrounding forest, Shi Bao kills Ma Lin and Yan Shun.
The battle moves outside of Muzhou. In the forest Lü Fang and Bai Qin grapple and fall down a cliff to their deaths. Guo Sheng too is killed. Shi Bao kills himself rather than be captured.
Meanwhile Lu Junyi for Shezhou. In an ambush, Shi Jin, Shi Xiu and four other chieftains are shot down. Shi Qian spies to find a way through a mountain pass to Shezhou. He single-handedly takes the pass.
Peng Wanchun kills Ou Peng. Zhang Qing is also killed. Ding Desun is bitten by a snake and dies. Shan Tingguo and Wei Dingguo rush into Shezhou and are killed in a trap. Lu Junyi kills Fang Hou, Fang La’s uncle and Governor of Shezhou. Shi Yong is killed.
Advancing on Fang La in Bangyuan Caves, Qin Ming, Yu Baosi, Sun the Witch, Zou Yan, Du Qian, Li Li, Tang Long, Cai Fu, Ruan the Fifth are killed. Eventually Fang La is trapped in Bangyuan Cave.
Chai Jin, still pretending to be an aid to Fang La, agrees to lead the army against the outlaws. Chai Jin battles the outlaws the first day, but lets it be known to them that tomorrow he will turn over Fang La. On the next day, during battle, Chai Jin kills Fang Jie. The southern forces are routed and Fang La flees.
Ruan the seventh lets it be known that the reinforcements that the emperor sent down could take no credit for the victory; all credit was due to Song Jiang’s forces.
In the mountains, Sagacious Lu captures Fang La.
Six ill Chieftains in Hangzhou, including Zhu Fu, die. (The other five are unnamed as are the four other chieftains who are shot down in chapter 98. By process of elimination these nine chieftains are nine of the following ten: Chen Da, Yang Chun, Li Zhong, Zhu Gui, Bai Sheng, Kong Ming, Xue Yong, Zhang Heng, Mu Hong, and Li Yun.) Only 36 of the original 108 are left. According to the prophecy of the abbot of Wutai, Sagacious Lu prepares to die. He takes a bath, writes an ode, sits down on the floor, and expires. Wu Song, having lost an arm, does not want to return to the capital. He moves into a monastery to live out his days.
Before Song Jiang’s forces can return, Lin Chong is unexpectedly stricken by paralysis, Yan Xiong develops a growth on his spine and dies, and Shi Qian expires from appendicitis. Yang Zhi also dies. Yan Qing too does not desire to return to court. He wanders off alone to pursue a rustic life. Li Jun falls ill and requests that Tong Wei and Tong Meng stay behind with him.
They hook up with Fei Bao and his crew. They built a ship and eventually Li Jun became King of Siam.
Twenty-seven outlaws return to the capital, 12 of them senior. The twelve senior outlaws are: Song Jiang, Lu Junyi, Dai Zong, Ruan the Seventh, Chai Jin, Li Ying, Guan Sheng, Huyan Zhou, Zhu Tong, Hua Rong, Wu Yong and Li Kui. The 15 lieutenant outlaws are: Du Xing, Huang Xin, Sun Li, Sun Xin, Mistress Gu, Zou Run, Cai Qing, Pei Xuan, Yang Lin, Jiang Jing, Zhu Wu, Fan Rui, Mu Chun, Ling Zhen, and apparently Song Qing. (It is unclear but it seems that Song Qing became the 108th hero after Chao Gai died. But Song Qing has no role in the exploits.) Still in the capital are Dr. An Daoquan, Huang Duan, Jin Daijan, Xiao Rang, Yue Ho. They visit the emperor and are given official posts. Song Jiang travels to his father’s manor before assuming his official post. Song Jiang returns to the eastern capital where Dai Zong has a message for him.
Dai Zong resigns his post, becomes a Taoist recluse, and dies several months later in good health. Ruan the Seventh assumed his official post, but the emperor’s corrupt ministers remembered his words at Bangyuan, and slander him. He lost his post and happily became a fisherman again. Chai Jin resigned and returned to his farm. Li Ying resigns. Huyan Zhou became a successful general in the Imperial Guards. He was to die battling the Golden Tartars years later. Zhu Tong eventually attained the rank of Governor. Hua Rong assumed office as prefect of Yingtian. Wu Yong took charge in Wusheng Military District. Li Kui took office in Runzhou.
The emperor’s corrupt ministers were pretty unhappy with the high honors being paid to Song Jiang. Marshal Gao, Marshal Yong, Chancellor of Military Affairs Tong Guan, Premier Cai. They invite Lu Junyi to dinner with the emperor and poison him without the emperor’s knowledge. On the way back home, Lu Junyi dies.
The emperor sends two bottles of wine to Song Jiang as a mourning gift, but the ministers poison the wine. Song Jiang drinks the wine and feels bad. He knows that he will die. He also knows that Li Kui will fly through the roof and rebel when he hears that Song Jiang was killed by poisoned imperial wine. Therefore, Song Jiang invites Li Kui over and offers him the poisoned wine as well. Song Jiang and Li Kui are buried side by side on Liao Er Flats. Wu Yong and Hua Rong are visited by Song Jiang and Li Kui in their dreams. They travel to the Liao Er Flats and hang themselves, in order that their spirits can be together.
The spirit of Dai Zong appears to the emperor and leads him to the spirit of Song Jiang, who reveals the crime of the four ministers. Even after the emperor confirms that the dream is true, he is so weak-willed that he is again deceived by these ministers and does not punish them.
Yang Zhi the Blue-Faced Beast and Sou Chao the Urgent Vanguard joust before Governor Liang of Daming, the Northern Capital.