Plots written in excellent English: by Bertrand.
Plots written in less refined English: by Fern.
Plots written in unusual English: from mask9.com.
Some operas are embedded into longer stories or have alternative titles, browse through the page if you don’t find something under the appropriate letter.
Cao Cao and Liu Bei launch a military campaign against Lü Bu. Though the city of Xiapi is besieged, Lü Bu is enjoying life in the company of Diaochan and lots of wine.
Lü Bu’s advisor, Chen Gong wants to inform Lü Bu that Cao Cao’s troops are at the palace gate, and he should come and see it. A servant is conveying the message, but Diaochan’s answer is that Lü Bu is already drunk, come back later. Of course Chen Gong isn’t happy with the decadent behaviour of the lord.
Zhang Liao comes as next, but he doesn’t let the servant to turn him away, rushes to Lü Bu and informs him that his beloved horse, Red Hare and his halberd was stolen. Now Lü Bu is already worried, how could he fight a battle unarmed and defenseless? Diaochan is comforting him that with his unmatched military skills Lü Bu will be victorious even without horse and weapon. Lü Bu commands his generals to prepare for war, they must catch the thief alive. The groom is preparing a horse for him and Lü Bu is galloping away.
After a fierce fight with Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, Lü Bu gets captured and brought to White Gate Tower. Meanwhile Diaochan comes before Cao Cao, and she’s begging for pardon and mercy. Cao Cao accepts the apology and orders his men to safely transport Diaochan to the old palace, which she gladly accepts.
Lü Bu gets absolutely furious when seeing Diaochan at White Gate Tower. Previously he was killing Dong Zhuo to rescue Diaochan, and now this loose woman has deserted him too. Chen Gong, also in chains, complains that he suspected that Diaochan is a hypocrite. Lü Bu is showing remorse for being so attached to wine and women recently.
Cao Cao is planning to spare Lü Bu and keep him as his general, though Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu aren’t fascinated by the idea. Lü Bu has no alternative but pledging allegiance to Cao Cao who almost takes the bait, but Liu Bei is reminding him of Ding Jianyang and Dong Zhuo – Lü Bu was pledging service to these two lords before, but betrayed and killed them later. Lü Bu is making a vain attempt to convince Liu Bei on account of their former friendship, but Cao Cao changes his mind and orders Lü Bu to get decapitated.
《白蛇传》Baishe Zhuan (Tale of the White Snake)
The White Snake and the Green Snake can transform into human shape after practicing magic for a thousand years on Emeishan. They call themselves Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing and come down to the human world. At West Lake, they chance to meet Xu Xian. Bai and Xu fall in love and become husband and wife.
Monk Fahai intervenes, Xu listens to his ill advice and makes Bai drunk on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival. Bai’s reversal to her original snake form scares Xu so much that he drops dead. Bai goes to the celestial mountains to gather the celestial herb to revive him. After he has recovered, Xu is again lured by Fahai to go to the Jinshan Monastery, where Xu is not allowed to return home. Bai and Xiaoqing come to ask Fahai to release Xu but to no avail.
Bai is forced to wreak havoc. Xu escapes from the Monastery, and is reunited with Bai on Broken Bridge in West Lake. Bai forgives him because she still loves him, and the two go to the home of Xu’s sister. Fahai tracks them down; the two snakes are not his match in magic powers. Xiaoqing manages to escape, but Bai is trapped under the Leifeng Pagoda. Many years later, Xiaoqing returns with her immortal friends, defeats the spirit guarding the Pagoda, brings it down, and lets Bai free.
《白水滩》Baishuitan (White Water Beach)
Xu Qiying, nicknamed the “Green-faced Tiger”, is a bandit at a mountain stronghold.
One day, lying drunk on a stone slab at the foot of the mountain, he is captured by government officers and sent to the capital in custody. His sister, Peizhu, leads a contingent to rescue him at White Water Beach. Just then, Mo Yuji happens to pass by. He has just recovered from a serious illness and is penniless.
Seeing that one group is scurrying and being pursued by another which is much stronger, his sense of justice drives him to help the weaker group. Unwittingly he has sided with the officers and beaten the Xu brother and sister.
Ironically, Mo is falsely accused by the officers of having colluded with bandits, and is sentenced to death by execution. The Green-faced Tiger leads his followers to rescue him and brings him to safety in his camp.
《长坂坡·汉津口》Changbanpo (Changban Slope) - Hanjin Kou (Hanjin Pass)
Liu Bei and his household escape Jiangling and go to Dangyang region. Cao Cao’s great army chases after them. Liu Bei looses touch with his family members in the military chaos. As a lonely rider, Zhao Yun breaks through the lines and rescues Mi Zhu (Liu’s official), Jian Yong (Liu’s advisor) and Mrs. Gan (Liu’s wife).
He finds Liu Bei’s other wife too, but Mrs. Mi is already wounded by an arrow, so she entrusts his son, A-dou (Liu Chan) to Zhao, then jumps into a well and dies. Zhao hides the baby under the armor on his chest, and spares no effort to fight Cao Cao’s generals and force his way to Liu Bei.
Seeing his bravery, even Cao Cao orders to capture him alive, but Zhao Yun succeeds to escape.
He returns the baby to Liu, who drops the infant to the ground because he almost caused the death of his beloved general, but Zhao Yun catches the baby.
Cao Cao still chases after Zhao Yun, but Zhang Fei causes great havoc at Changban Bridge and frightens Cao’s soldiers to retreat. After that, Zhang Fei makes a mistake: he destroys the bridge, thus Cao Cao soon figures out there’s no ambush in Dangyang and his army proceeds.
Liu Bei plans to escape through the Hanjin Pass. Just in time, Guan Yu’s army comes to his rescue. Cao Cao sees from the setup this must be Zhuge Liang’s plan, and withdraws his soldiers. Liu flees to Jiangxia’s port and escapes. Soon Zhuge Liang’s forces also arrive, and Cao suffers defeat.
Li Suping has to leave his little brother and work in a brothel to raise the amount for his father’s burial. She changes her name to Chen Sanliang.
In the brothel, she helps her sworn brother, Chen Kui in his studies. Later Chen Kui leaves for the imperial examinations, and the procuress sells Chen Sanliang to a rich merchant.
She resists to marry the rich man and wants to commit suicide. The merchant takes Chen Sanliang to the court and bribes the county magistrate, Li Fengming to interrogate Sanliang under torture. Sanliang tells her sad story to the corrupt county magistrate, who realizes Sanliang is his own sister, Li Suping. Moreover he hears the news that the newly appointed governor of the province soon arrives, he apologizes for his offences and begs for Sanliang’s mercy.
Sanliang is very angry. The governor arrives, and it turns out he’s Sanliang’s sworn brother, Chen Kui. Chen Kui wants to behead Li Fengming, but Sanliang asks for pardon, thus the corrupt little brother is just dismissed from office.
《赤桑镇》Chisangzhen (Red Mulberry Town)
After Bao Zheng lost both of his parents, he was raised up by his elder sister-in-law, Wu Miaozhen, who treated him like his own a son; also Bao considered Mrs. Wu as his mother. Wu Miaozhen’s husband died early, leaving behind an only son, Bao Mian.
Bao Mian worked as a county magistrate in Xiaoshan, but was dismissed from office for taking bribes. Bao Zheng didn’t want to hurt his foster mother, and concealed the truth about the incident.
One day, Wu Miaozhen hears that Bao Zheng is sent to Chenzhou to distribute relief grain. She arranges a farewell dinner, hoping that Bao Zheng and Bao Mian will have an opportunity to chit-chat a little. She’s sitting at home alone when a letter arrives with Bao Zheng’s own handwriting, informing her that his only son was beheaded on charges of corruption, also telling the truth about the former Xiaoshan incident. What exactly happened at the farewell dinner is revealed in another play (Beheading Bao Mian).
Wu Miaozhen immediately rushes to Chisangzhen, accusing Bao Zheng with ungratefulness. She’s unable to restrain her anger and starts to beat Bao with her walking stick. A very submissive Judge Bao deeply apologizes and pays respect to his mother, but explains that righteousness comes above family loyalty.
Mrs. Wu finally realizes that Bao Zheng’s decision was just, and after all she was the one who taught him to be righteous. The two get reconciled, and Bao finally departs for Chenzhou.
《春草闯堂》Chun Cao Chuang Tang (Chun Cao Rushes to the Court)
When the Prime Minister’s daughter Li Banyue, accompanied by her maid, Chuncao, goes to Huashan on an incense-offering pilgrimage, she is harassed by Wu Du, son of the Minister of Civil Service. A chivalrous young man, Xue Meiting, happens to pass by and comes to their rescue. Then Wu abducts and beats to death a commoner, a girl named Zhang Yulian.
Xue, fuelled by righteous anger, fights Wu and kills him by accident. He gives himself up at the court of the prefecture. Lady Yang, Minister Wu’s wife and mother of Wu Du, tries to force Prefect Hu to flog Xue to death on the spot. Chuncao the maid barges in to defend Xue. As Prefect Hu cares more for power than justice, Chuncao lies that Xue is the Prime Minister’s son-in-law. Prefect Hu takes Chuncao to the Prime Minister’s Residence to confirm. Chuncao persuades her mistress to acknowledge Xue as her husband. In a sycophant attempt to please a superior official, Prefect Hu orders a guard to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister in the capital. Annoyed by his daughter’s improper behaviour of marrying without consulting him, the Prime Minister denies that Xue is his son-in-law, and returns with an order that Hu is to deliver Xue’s head to the capital instead.
Chuncao and her mistress cleverly change the content of the letter. On receipt of the letter, Hu is overjoyed and dutifully sends Xue to the capital, complete with celebratory banners and a music procession. The news rattles the capital and all officials send gifts and congratulations. Even the Emperor presents them with an imperial inscription. Prime Minister Li cannot but accept Xue as his son-in-law.
《春闺梦》Chun Gui Meng (Dream in a Girl’s Chamber)
In a scramble for territory, Gongsun Zan and Liu Yu are forcing civilians to join their respective forces. Wang Hui has just married Miss Zhang. He and fellow villagers, Zhao Kenu and Li Xin, are conscripted, and Hui is killed in battle shortly after.
《打龙袍》Da Longpao (Beating the Emperor’s Robe)
Empress Li and Bao Zheng return to the capital. Bao Zheng eventually calls Emperor Renzong unfilial at the Lantern Festival. Renzong gets furious and orders the execution of Bao.
Wang Yanling is asking for pardon, and requests the old palace eunuch, Chen Lin to expose the truth about the civet cat fraud and Empress Liu’s treachery. Now that he knows the facts about his real mother, the Emperor immediately pardons Bao Zheng, orders the beheading of Guo Huai and begs the forgiveness of Empress Li.
Empress Li asks Bao Zheng to figure out the proper punishment. Bao takes off Renzong’s dragon robe, and instead the Emperor himself, his imperial robe is beaten.
《打銮驾》Da Luanjia (Crashing the Imperial Chariot)
The story is set during the Northern Song dynasty, and there was a big drought in Chenzhou county. On imperial order, the emperor’s maternal uncle, Pang Yu, is sent to Chengzhou to distribute grain to the people. But he and the local official conspire to embezzle the provisions.
Having no other choice, many commoners arrive to Kaifeng, the capital at that time, and complain about the injustice. The emperor orders judge Bao Zheng to investigate and handle the case.
Imperial tutor Pang Ji and his daughter, imperial concubine Pang Fei borrow the imperial chariot to obstruct Bao Zheng on the way. Bao Zheng repeatedly asks them to move away, but Pang Fei refuses to let him pass.
Judge Bao gets angry and destroys the chariot. The Emperor wants to order the execution of Bao Zheng, but Zhao Defang, Emperor Taizu’s fourth son and senator Kou Zhun ask for leniency. Taizong finally pardons Bao and gives him the imperial sword, thus permitting him to act first and report later.
Bao Zheng travels to Chengzhou. Upon his arrival, he investigates the case in detail. With the military aid of the brave Zhan Zhao, they manage to subdue Pang Yu, though Pang Ji and his henchmen try to hinder them. Justice is done when Judge Bao orders the execution of Pang Yu and the corrupt officials.
《挡马》Dang Ma (Blocking the Horse)
The story takes place during the Song Dynasty when the Central Plains are under attack of the Liao army in the north. The eighth daughter of the Yang family of generals and fighters, Yang Bajie, disguises herself as a man to scout around the enemy land. She passes by a tavern run by Jiao Guangpu, who is actually the brother of a general of the Song army but has not been able to return home.
On seeing Yang with her pass, he sees his possible way out by stealing it from her. Yang becomes suspicious and starts a fight with him. Finally, after much probing, he tells her the truth, so the two begin their journey home together.
《大保国》Da Bao Guo (Defending the Nation) – At the time of the early death of Ming Emperor Muzong (Emperor Longqing) the crown prince is still an infant, thus imperial concubine Li Yanfei governs the country from behind the curtain.
By deceiving Yanfei with his talk, her father, Li Liang attempts to seize the throne. At the Longfeng Pavilion, Ministers Xu Yanzhao and Yang Bo remonstrate with strong words, but Li Yanfei simply doesn’t listen – ruler and ministers part on bad terms.
《探皇陵》Tan Huang Ling (Visiting the Emperor’s Tomb) - Xu Yanzhao visits the tomb of the Emperor, pays homage and pours his heart out. Yang Bo also comes with a group of soldiers, and they decide to speak to Li Yanfei again.
《二进宫》Er Jin Gong (Entering the Palace for the Second Time) - Meanwhile Li Liang blockades the palace, completely isolating Li Yanfei. She finally realizes that Xu and Yang are loyal ministers and she was deceived. Xu and Yang manage to sneak into the palace, and convince Li Yanfei to do something. She entrusts the baby crown prince to the ministers, who promise they will help him to ascend the throne.
《打严嵩》Da Yan Song (Beating Yan Song)
The story takes place during the Ming Dynasty, when the prime minister, Yan Song, is in power and his corrupt practices lead to the demise of many loyal courtiers. He even schemes to usurp the throne, and has his own crown made for the occasion. The Grand Historian Zou Yinglong hears of his intent, and has always wanted to thwart his plan as well as to shame him.
When Yan is dissatisfied with the work of the two craftsmen of his crown and chases them out, Zou puts them in the safe custody of Prince of Kaishan, Chang Baotong, so as to keep them as witnesses to testify against Yan. He also tells Chang that he can beat Yan up, but not to cause any injuries to his face. He will tell him the reason later. Chang agrees to the plan. To fortify his plot, Zou pretends to leak out the information to Yan, and succeeds in luring him to Kaishan.
Yan brings with him a royal edict to do a search for the two craftsmen. The Prince, under the instruction of Zou, cheats Yan into handing over the royal edict, and gives him a good beating on the body with the gold staff bestowed on him by His Majesty, deliberately leaving his face untouched. Yan escapes and tells Zou he is going to appeal to His Majesty to mete out punishment to the Prince. Zou tells him he has no proof because his face carries no wounds or bruises. Yan begs Zou to create some for him, and seizing this golden opportunity, Zou gives him a good beating, at the same time castigating him to his heart’s content. But Yan still does not realise he is being tricked.
《得意缘》De Yi Yuan (A Desirable Match)
Lu Kunjie from Shangdong, nephew of the Sichuan governor general falls on hard times and wanders in destitute, finally he becomes a traveling entertainer. In Hukou he marries Di Yunluan, the second daughter of the chivalrous bandit, Di Longkang.
Later, when Lu finds out that his father-in-law is a bandit-chief, he decides to escape with his wife who is willing to accompany him. But it’s easier to enter the mountain stronghold then to go out… Man and wife try to break through the gate of the stockade, but they are continuously defeated by Yunluan’s kin.
Finally they arrive to the main gate of the stronghold that is guarded by Yunluan’s paternal grandmother. Di Yunluan knows she’s no match for her granny, so entreats piteously for releasing them. Finally her granny lets them to go downhill and flee.
《窦娥冤》Dou E Yuan (The Injustice Done to Dou E) or 《六月雪》Liu Yue Xue (Snowfall in June)
Dou Tianzhang decides to take the imperial civil service exams, so that he can marry off his daughter, Dou E to a fellow villager, Cai Changzong. Cai also leaves the village to take the exams, and the son of his housekeeper, Zhang Lü’er (Zhang “Donkey”) accompanies him on the road.
On the way, Zhang Lü’er tosses Cai Changzong into the river, hoping he can marry Dou E himself, then informs Cai’s mother that her son is dead. Mrs. Cai falls sick. Lü’er poisons Mrs. Cai’s lamb soup, but accidentally his own mother eats it and dies.
Lü’er accuses Dou E of the crime, who cannot endure the sight of her mother being interrogated violently. She decides to take the rap for the murder and confesses to the crime. The county official orders Dou E’s execution. She is to be executed in June, but the day of the execution from the sky falls December snow, an omen, and the governor realizes there has been a miscarriage of justice. Lü’er is taken away in chains, and Dou E is rehabilitated.
Moreover, it turns out that Cai Changzong wasn’t drowned: now a high official, he returns and the family is reunited.
《断太后》Duan Taihou (Judging the Empress) /《遇皇后》Yu Huanghou (Meeting the Empress)
After distributing the relief grain in Chenzhou, Bao Zheng is on his way back to the capital. Upon reaching the Zhaozhou Bridge, he lodges in the Tianqi Temple for the night. There he meets a poor, blind woman who came to complain. It turns out that she’s Empress Li, the birth mother of Emperor Renzong, but escaped the palace and lives in desperate poverty after she was framed by Empress Liu. Liu, with the help of an eunuch, Guo Huai, exchanged Li’s newborn son with a skinned palm civet, accusing her with giving birth to a monster.
Empress Li is suspicious, and touches Bao Zheng’s head and attire to make sure he isn’t a swindler. Bao is also asking the woman what evidence she has. Empress Li is handing over a piece of yellow silk to Bao Zheng. A secret message about the circumstances of the injustice is written on it. It’s definitely the handwriting of senator Kou Zhun, thus Bao knows the proof is authentic and immediately kowtows before Empress Li.
《法门寺》Famensi (Famen Temple)
Liu the Matchmaker sees how Fu Peng has left Sun Yujiao a jade bangle, so she asks Sun for one of her embroidered shoes, claiming that she would do the matchmaking for her. The matchmaker’s son, Liu Biao, sees the opportunity to blackmail Fu Peng. An argument ensues, and the village beadle, Liu Gongdao, stops them. At night, Liu Biao steals into the Sun Residence, and kills Sun’s uncle and aunt by mistake.
When he discovers the mistake, he cuts off the heads of the two and throws them over the wall into the courtyard of the village beadle. Liu Gongdao is frightened out of his wits and hides the heads. Then he discovers that the entire process has been seen by his helper, Song Xing, so he kills him to shut him up forever.
The deaths are reported to the Magistrate, Zhao Lian. Instead of investigating, he casts Fu Peng into prison and extricates a false confession from him by severely torturing him. The father of Song Xing, the helper who gets killed, wants justice done, but is also incarcerated. His daughter, Song Qiaojiao, happens to be the fiancée of Fu Peng. She makes Liu the Matchmaker drunk and so learns the truth of the entire situation.
When the Empress Dowager visits Famen Temple on a devotional trip, Sun Qiaoqiao seizes the opportunity to make her appeal. The Empress Dowager is accompanied by the Chief Eunuch Liu Jin, who is entrusted to hear her out. Liu Jin orders Zhao Lian to revoke the verdicts, and after investigation and the true culprits are found, Liu Jin orders to have Liu Biao and Liu Gongdao executed. Also, at the order of the Empress Dowager, the two girls, Sun Yujiao and Song Qiaojiao, are to both marry Fu Peng as wives.
《范进中举》Fan Jin Zhongji (Fan Jin Passes the Imperial Exams)
Before the prefectural examinations, Commissioner Zhou notices a candidate who looks a bit overage and very poor. Similarly to him in his youth, Fan Jin’s greatest desire is to succeed in the imperial examinations. Unfortunately, he failed many times before, and other candidates continuously jeer at him. However, Fan Jin decides to try his luck one more time, and finally passes the county level examinations.
Fellow countrymen and relatives come to congratulate Fan Jin. The local butcher, Hu, Fan Jin’s father-in-law isn’t very happy that his daughter married a poor scholar, though he arrives with sausages and wine.
Now Fan Jin has to pass the provincial exams. Too bad that he can’t afford a trip to the capital. His classmates give him three coins, but that’s not enough. Following the advice of his classmate, he asks for the help of his father-in-law, but Butcher Hu rudely rejects him. Finally his countrymen help him out with some money, and Fan Jin, carrying the basket with all the food they had at home, leaves for the capital.
Before the exams, the candidates are randomly frisked before entering. One of Fan Jin’s classmates has no fortune with the paper he tucked into his sleeves.
When Fan Jin returns home after the examination, Butcher Hu angrily reprimands him because his family had nothing to eat while he was away. His mother is sending Fan Jin to the market to sell the chicken.
Meanwhile, heralds arrive to the Fan house with the good news: Fan Jin has passed the provincial exams! Other candidates and officials come to congratulate him, suddenly everyone becomes very respectful. Fan Jin’s name was the first on the list announcing the successful examinees, he will be a high official soon!
His neighbors find Fan Jin at the market and bring him home. Seeing the official announcement, Fan Jin almost faints. He goes crazy with happiness, runs all over the place and no-one can calm him down. Minutes ago he was selling chicken, now he’s a honorable man.
As last solution to stop his madness, the visitors and the family convince the reluctant Butcher Hu to give Fan Jin a big slap, as he’s the only person Fan Jin is afraid of. Butcher Hu strengthens his courage with a cup of wine, and they go after Fan Jin. After a punch in his face from his father-in-law, Fan Jin slowly returns to reason and all go home happily.
《贵妃醉酒》Guifei Zuijiu (The Drunken Concubine)
Emperor Ming of Tang has an appointment with his favourite concubine, Yang Yuhuan (also known as Guifei) at the Baihua Pavilion. Consort Yang arrives in time with a big entourage of court ladies and servants, waiting impatiently to have a drink with the emperor, but he never shows up. Later she hears the news that Emperor Ming favoured his another pampered concubine, Jiang Caiping (also known as Meifei) that night. Disappointed and jealous, Guifei starts to drink alone to forget about the humiliating situation. She’s gradually losing control under the influence of alcohol, showing off her beautiful appearance, finally she hardly can stand up from the table and leaning on her servants for support.
《汉宫惊魂》Han Gong Jing Hun (Panic in Han Palace)
Ma Wu arrives to Yao Qi with good news: Liu Xiu (aka. Han Emperor Guangwu) promoted his young son, Yao Gang for his achievements. Yao with wife and son heads to the imperial court.
Liu Xiu is very fond of Yao Qi, he’s a loyal minister and general since the start. The Emperor grants the hot-headed Yao Gang a prestigious title (“ferocious marquis”). Imperial tutor Guo Rong is burning in the fire of jealousy.
When Yao Gang is parading on horseback in the streets, Guo Rong blocks the gate of the official residence and doesn’t let him through. Yao Gang gets furious and accidentally beats Guo Rong to death. He doesn’t seem to be worried, but Yao Qi is very upset. Guo Rong was not only imperial tutor, but also imperial concubine Guo’s father.
Lady Guo demands the Emperor to behead Yao Gang. Liu Xiu doesn’t order Yao Gang’s execution, but sends him away to a faraway army post to serve a penal sentence.
Once when Liu Xiu is drunk, Lady Guo with ulterior motive asks him to pardon Yao Gang. The Emperor orders Yao Qi to the palace, so that Yao can ask for the favor.
Guo spills the wine cup that Yao Qi offers, then deliberately drops the cup to the ground and says it was Yao’s insult.
The totally zonked Emperor orders Yao Qi to be executed.
With a high hand, Lady Guo takes the imperial sword (practically a licence to kill), gives it to Deng Yu and orders him to behead Yao Qi, Ma Wu and two other generals. Deng Yu is concerned about politics, doesn’t want to kill four important pillars of the state, thus he takes a few criminals from the death row to substitute Yao, Ma and the others.
Deng Yu goes back to the Emperor and returns the sword. Liu Xiu starts to sober up, and realizes what he has done. He collapses, as if he has lost his soul. In a miserable condition, he visits the shrine of ancestors at the top of the palace to beg forgiveness.
Deng Yu calls back the four generals to explain the truth. They return to the palace at night, but Liu Xiu thinks they are all ghosts, of course he’s scared to death. It’s not easy to convince him that everyone is fine, but finally Yao Gang is ordered home, Yao Qi gets his title back, and Concubine Guo is thrown into prison.
《贺后骂殿》He Hou Ma Dian (Empress He Accuses the Usurper)
Emperor Taizu of Song (born Zhao Kuangyin) is succeeded on the throne by his younger brother, Zhao Guangyi.
Empress He, because the circumstances of the death of her husband were unclear, is sending her eldest son, Dezhao to the palace hall to inquire.
Zhao Guangyi gets furious and wants to behead his nephew. Dezhao bumps his head into a pillar and dies (historically he was cutting his own throat with a knife).
Empress He and her second son, Defang go to the palace hall to criticize Guangyi. The emperor offers his apology for his fault, and handing the imperial sword to Empress He, bestowing her the title Empress Dowager, and confering the name Ba Xian Wang on Defang.
《红鬃烈马》Hongzong Liema (Red-maned Fiery Horse)
Tang minister Wang Yun has three daughters. The eldest daughter, Wang Jinchuan marries Su Long, an official residing in the Ministry of Revenue. The second, Wang Yinchuan marries Wei Hu, assistant minister of Ministry of War.
《花园赠金》Huayuan Zeng Jin (Golden Present in the Garden) - The youngest and most doted-on daughter, Wang Baochuan falls in love with the poor Xue Pinggui, when she finds the young man in the garden collapsed from hunger. She gives him a valuable present.
《彩楼配》Cai Lou Pei (Match Made at the Colorful Tower) - Wang Baochuan wants to pick his husband by tossing out a golden ball from the window of the Colorful Tower (Cailou). The ball lands in the hands of the poor but extremely handsome peasant, Xue Pinggui. Wang Yun isn’t pleased, wants to go back on his word, but Baochuan resists his father’s will.
《三击掌》San Jizhang (Clapping Hands Three Times) - Wang Yun and his daughter make an oath by clapping their hands three times that they will see each other never again, and Baochuan leaves with Xue Pinggui.
They live together in a cave called Hanyao (“Cold Kiln”) at the Wujia Slope, suffering all kinds of hardships.
《闹窑降马》Nao Yao Xiang Ma (Taming the Horse) - Later Xue Pinggui is taming a fierce, red-maned horse. The Tang emperor is impressed and promotes Pinggui to a high ranking official in the army.
Western Liang soon starts a rebellion, and due to Wang Yun’s intrigue, Pinggui is sent to the West as vanguard.
《别窑投军》 Bie Yao Tou Jun (Leaving Home to Join the Army) - Husband and wife bid farewell to each other, and Pinggui leaves Hanyao.
His brother-in-laws, Su Long and Wei Hu also serve in Western Liang. Wei Hu and Wang Yun conspire and wait for the opportunity to get rid of Xue Pinggui.
Pinggui’s unit is assigned a mission, and he claims great victory in a hard battle. During the celebration of the heroic deed, Wei Hu gets Pinggui drunk, ties him on the back of a horse and sends him to the enemy camp.
The plan backfires, the king of Western Liang gets fond of Pinggui and betroths his daughter to him. After the death of the king, Xue Pinggui succeeds him to the throne.
18 years go by.
《母女会》Mu Nü Hui (Meeting of Mother and Daughter) - Mrs. Wang is visiting her daughter to see how she’s doing. Baochuan is sick, poor and miserable, but remained true to his husband and took care of Hanyao.
Xue Pinggui is convinced that Baochuan is already dead, but he’s thinking of her day and night.
《鸿雁传书》Hongyan Chuan Shu (Swan Delivering the Letter) - Suddenly a wild goose is approaching him and delivers a letter from Baochuan. Pinggui plans to return to his homeland immediately, but is afraid that Princess Daizhan won’t let him go.
《赶三关》Gan San Guan (Rushing Through Three Paths) - He gets the princess drunk and flees, hurriedly crossing three paths until he arrives to Hanyao.
《武家坡》Wujia Po (The Wujia Slope) - After so many years, Baochuan does not recognize his husband and escapes into the cave. Pinggui has the nerves to test Baochuan’s love by tempting her with silver and sweet promises to accompany him and leave on horseback. Baochuan firmly resists. Xue Pinggui reveals himself and finally they have a reunion.
《算军粮》Suan Jun Liang (Stock-taking the Army Provisions) - At Wang Yun’s birthday celebration, a fierce argument is going on between Wei Hu and Xue Pinggui, regarding the provisions of the last 18 years.
After the death of the Tang emperor, Wang Yun seizes the throne and sends troops to capture Xue Pinggui.
《银空山》Yinkong Shan (Silver Sky Mountain) - With the help of Princess Daizhan, Pinggui defeats his enemies and…
《大登殿》Da Deng Dian (The Great Enthronement) – …enters the palace, claims the throne for himself and makes Baochuan Empress. He orders the execution of Wang Yun, but Wang Baochuan asks him to spare the life of her father. Pinggui gives in, he even allows Mrs. Wang to live in the palace. Happy end.
《荒山泪》Huang Shan Lei (Tears On Barren Hill)
The story is set during the reign of the last Ming emperor, the muddle-headed Chongzen, born Zhu Youjian.
It’s a tragic story of a family of five members: the poor farmer Gao Liangmin, his wife Mrs. Chen, his son Gao Zhong, his daughter-in-law Zhang Huizhu and his grandson Bao Lian.
The emperor is continuously levying higher taxes, further deepening the suffering of the people. Furthermore, there is a severe drought in Henan that has lasted for months and farmers can’t harvest any crops. This year famine will strike. On top of everything else, the Minister of War Yang Sichang is ordered by the emperor to put down the peasant rebellion led by Li Zhicheng; this results in more taxes and forced military service. More and more desperate people join the uprising, and the Ming empire will soon collapse.
Zhang Huizhu is weaving silk fabric day and night and Bao Lian is selling it at the market, to be able to pay the taxes.
One day, Gao Liangmin and his son are going to the forest to collect herbs. They are warned by Gao Liangmin’s good friend, Bao Shide, that the hills are extremely dangerous, because there are man-eating tigers on the loose which have already killed a woodcutter and a traveler. But Gao Liangmin is more afraid of the government than the tiger, so they go nevertheless.
Two tax collectors (Wang Sixiang and Cui Defu) come to the Gao house, and though Mrs. Chen says they already paid the tax before, they demand more. Zhang Huizhu tells them that they can pay as soon as Bao Lian comes back from the market, so the duo is waiting until he arrives. The tax collectors take away 5000 coins, half of the amount brought in. Mrs. Chen is upset, but Bao Lian tries to comfort them that when his father and grandfather come back from the mountains, they can get a good price for the herbs on the market.
It’s late at night, Bao Lian is waiting for his dad and grandpa to return. He falls asleep after a while, his mother comes and affectionately covering him. Zhang Huizhu is still weaving at the night, but continuously makes mistakes. She worries that it’s a bad omen, and something has happened to her husband and father-in-law. Why are they staying away so long, what could happen to them? Are they lost in the forest?
Next morning Bao Shide comes with devastating news: both Gao Liangmin and his son were killed by the man-eating tiger. Hearing the news, Mrs. Chen coughs blood and collapses. Bao Shide runs for a doctor.
The two tax collectors return again, and this time they take 3000 coins, no matter how Zhang Huizhu begs them not to. What’s more, Minister of War Yang Sichang arrives as well, forcefully taking away Bao Lian for obligatory military service despite his young age and family conditions. Mrs. Chen, hearing chaotic voices outside, gets up from the bed and tries to stumble to the door, but she falls to the ground and dies. Zhang Huizhu, who has lost all of her family members by now, doesn’t even have enough money to bury the old lady.
But there’s no end to the disaster. Though the people are already extremely desperate, the imperial court want to implement exorbitant taxation. Even Wang Sixiang and Cui Defu say that it’s not possible, so the county magistrate punishes them, both getting 20 strokes of the whip. In the end the two tax collectors return to Zhang Huizhu again, claiming 4000 coins from her. She has only 1000 left. The tax collectors allow her some time to find more money and go elsewhere first. As soon as they exit, Zhang Huizhu takes a knife and escapes to the Wangwu mountains, which once were like paradise but now are desolate.
Bao Shide follows Zhang Huizhu to the mountains, trying to hold her back, warning her about the tigers. Zhang Huizhu says she’s not afraid of the tigers, that if they eat her, it will be a blessing.
The two tax collectors catch up with her on the mountain pass, where they have pursued her.
When they see she’s holding a dagger, they say they were just ordered on, it’s nothing personal. Zhang Huizhu fiercely tells her opinion about the whole social situation the country is in, that people are poor, desperate, houses are empty, and that nobody cares about the common people…
As a final protest against tyranny she commits suicide, slicing her own throat with the dagger.
《火焰驹》Huo Yan Ju (Fire Steed or Precious Horse)
Set in the Song dynasty, Court councilor Li Shou’s son, Li Yangui, and Huang Zhang’s daughter Huang Guiying are engaged to be married since childhood. Greedy for power and in order to obtain the precious horse Huoyanju, Huang Zhang falsely accuses Li Shou who is sent to prison.
Li Shou’s other older son is ordered to the frontier, so the younger Li Yangui remains behind alone and destitute. Huang Zhang then tries to break up the engagement, but Guiying disobeys and cannot forget her sweetheart. Her servant girl, Mo Lan, arranges a meeting between her with Li Yangui. They meet in the garden, and Guiying gives him silver to help him, and admits about her inner feelings for him.
But tragedy strikes again. Li Yangui is sent to prison on false charges and sentenced to death. Guiying goes to the execution ground in the rain to offer sacrifice, she meets Li’s mother and his older brother’s wife (Mrs. Zhou) on the way. When Li’s mother learns Guiying is the daughter of Huang, she wants to beat her, but when she realizes Guiying really loves her son, they go together to the execution ground.
At the same time, the precious horse, Huoyanju runs to the border station and Li’s older brother, Li Yanrong returns from the frontier. Huang’s evil deeds get revealed and things turn out well in the nick of time!
Linan, Zhejiang, coldest winter. A starving scholar, Mo Ji collapses near to the doorway of a beggar, Jin Song.
Jin Yunu, daughter of Jin Song is standing in the door, waiting for his father to return. She sees the young man lying in the snow, frozen almost to dead, and invites him inside to allay his hunger with a bowl of hot douzhi. The young scholar is very handsome, and Jin Yunu falls for him immediately.
Jin Song returns home, and after her daughter ensures him Mo Ji is in the house by her invitation, they feed multiple bowls of douzhi to him. Though Mo Ji is already full and warmed up, Yunu doesn’t want him to go and asks his father to arrange a marriage with him.
Jin Song is carefully inquiring about the family background and conditions of the boy, who turns out to be a learned scholar who fell on hard times after his parents died and the family business withered. Mo Ji is currently homeless, also he sees that Yunu is pretty and only 16, so finally the match is made.
Later Mo Ji goes to the capital to enter the imperial examinations and succeeds. He takes up a new job in Jiangxi, but is ashamed of the humble family conditions of his wife, and on the way to Jiangxi he heartlessly tosses Jin Yunu into the river from the boat.
Fortunately the Jiangxi governor, Lin Run saves Yunu, and takes care of her as his own daughter, moreover he’s sending out his men to find Jin Song.
Later Lin Run is offering his daughter to Mo Ji as wife, who’s of course overjoyed at the good opportunity to claim higher status. He happily enters the bridal room, but unexpectedly gets beaten up.
Jin Yunu publicly reprimands Mo Ji for being unfaithful, and Lin Run dismisses him from office.
《九更天》Jiu Geng Tian (Nine More Days)
Scholar Mi Jintu leaves his older brother, Jinguo and their old servant, Ma Yi behind to try his luck with the examinations in the capital. For the night, he lodges in an inn and has a dream of his brother, soaked in blood. He immediately returns home to see what happened.
It turns out that his sister-in-law, Mrs. Tao and their neighbor, Hou Huazui murdered Jinguo. When they see that Jintu returned, Hou Huazui kills his own wife, Mrs. Liu, chops off her head, dresses the body in the clothes of Mrs. Tao, and moves the corpse to Jintu’s doorway. He hides Mrs. Tao and the head of her wife and makes a false countercharge against Mi Jintu.
Jintu is arrested. The old servant, Ma Yi cries injustice. Jintu’s death sentence is suspended while the county magistrate, Yang Weiru is looking for the head of the victim. Ma Yi thinks if he offers a head for the corpse, he can save Mi Jintu. He kills his own daughter, cuts her head off and takes it to the magistrate, but it just convinces the judge of Mi Jintu’s guilt. Ma Yi murdered and mutilated his own daughter in vain.
Ma Yi appeals to a higher magistrate who investigates the case in detail. Since skipping a step in the official system and appealing directly to a higher magistrate isn’t encouraged in feudal China, he has to undergo a painful procedure to prove that his complaint is not fake or insignificant.
In order to get noticed at all, he has to go to the headquarters of the high magistrate, and beat a gong under the window. Then comes the lever-knife test: is he brave enough to sustain the charges with a blade at his throat? In the last test he has to roll on the floor while clutching a nailed board to his chest.
It takes nine days but finally Mi Jintu is rehabilitated.
In the final years of the Yuan dynasty, warlords in the South join forces to set up an independent regime.
Chen Youliang, king of Northern Han and Zhang Shicheng, king of Wu decide to ally by marriage, and plan to set the palace of Zhu Yuanzhang (later Emperor Hongwu) on fire on 09 September.
Chen Youliang sends out Hu Lan to meet and greet Zhang Shicheng’s son, Zhang Ren, the groom-to-be of Chen’s daughter, but both Hu Lan and Zhang Ren are captured by Zhu Yuanzhang.
Zhu’s advisor, Liu Bowen induces Hu Lan to surrender, then Hu returns to Chen Youliang with general Hua Yunlong who impersonates Zhang Ren, and changes the date of the fire attack to 15 August.
The Northern Han marshal, Zhang Dingbian sees through the plan, but Chen Youliang is so enchanted by his future “son-in-law” that doesn’t listen to Zhang Dingbian.
Zhang Dingbian has no alternative but to return to the camp and investigate Hu Lan under torture. Hu confesses, Zhang Dingbian rushes to the palace to arrest the spy. Chen Youliang requests to confront Hua Yunlong and Hu Lan, but afraid of the upcoming punishment, Hu already commited suicide.
Without a witness, Chen Youliang disbelieves Zhang Dingbian, who has no other option than to cause havoc in the palace and forcefully take away Hua Yunlong from the wedding ceremony. He’s just about to interrogate Hua, when the furious Chen Youliang’s soldiers rescue “Zhang Ren”, moreover, Zhang Dingbian is removed from his post.
Chen Youliang, just as he was asked for by the swindler, sets out with his troops on 15 August. Zhang Dingbian stops him halfway, but Chen repeatedly disregards Zhang’s warning and leads his army right into the trap.
Fortunately, Zhang Dingbian comes to the rescue with 800 soldiers who disguised themselves as fishermen, and in a brave battle at Jiujiangkou they manage to escort Chen Youliang.
《锔大缸》or 《锯大缸》Ju Da Gang (Repairing the Big Pot)
A drought demon, called Yin Fengzhu incarnates in the region of the Hundreds of Flowers Mountain as Wang Daniang. (In other versions, the place is called Hundreds of Grass Mountain.) Because of her presence, the area experiences severe drought.
When a god wants to eliminate her, the demon takes shelter in a big earthen jar that was used to burn a dead person’s body. The god doesn’t want to get contaminated by the jar and hits it with a thunderbolt. The demon survives, but the pot cracks, and Wang Daniang wants it repaired.
Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy sends out god Tu Di to act as a craftsman. Tu Di disguises himself as a pot repairer, and goes to the Wang farmstead. Wang Daniang gives him the job, but Tu Di deliberately damages the pot beyond repair.
Seeing the big hole in the jar, Daniang sends two goblins to attack Tu Di, but he manages to escape. The furious Daniang proclaims war.
Before his military achievements, Xue Rengui was working in the home of Liu Run. One day when he was standing in the rain outside, the daughter of his employer, Liu Yingchun, took pity on him and gave him her red coat.
Seeing the coat, Liu Run believes that Xue and his daughter have had an affair and expels Rengui from his house and forces Yingchun to commit suicide. Mrs. Liu secretly orders her daughter to escape, and with the help of Yingchun’s nanny, in the miserable hut of Rengui the two outcasts get married.
Later, Rengui joins the army and builds his career. After 18 years, he meets a young man who shoots two wild ducks with one arrow. It turns out that the boy is his own son, and finally the family has a reunion.
《龙凤呈祥》Long Feng Cheng Xiang (The Auspicious Dragon and Phoenix)
《甘露寺》Ganlu Si (Ganlu Temple) - Sun Quan plans to lure Liu Bei to Wu under the pretence of marrying his younger sister, Sun Shangxiang, in order to kidnap Liu and exchange him for the strategic town of Jingzhou in return. Zhuge Liang, Liu’s chief officer sees through the conspiracy, and convinces Sun’s mother at the Ganlu Temple that Liu is worthy of being her son-in-law. Thus Sun Quan’s plan fails and Liu really marries his sister.
《回荆州》Hui Jingzhou (Back to Jingzhou) - Zhou Yu of Southern Wu is tricking Zhuge Liang with the false information that Cao Cao is attacking Jingzhou, so in a letter he’s asking Liu Bei to return. Sun Shangxiang, who already fell in love with Liu, is accompanying her husband. Zhou Yu is dispatching generals to chase after Lady Sun and Liu, but Zhuge Liang comes to the rescue. He already prepared a ship to escape Liu and his wife from danger, and finally they safely return to Jingzhou.
《路遥知马力》Lu Yao Zhi Ma Li (Lu Yao and Ma Li)
Folk story about childhood friends Lu Yao and Ma Li. The title in literal translation also means “Distant road tests a horse’s stamina”, i.e. judge people after a period of time.
Lu Yao’s father is a rich merchant, Ma Li’s father is a humble servant at the Lu residence, yet the two children are bond by close friendship. When the time arrives, they both want to get married. No problem for Lu Yao, but the poor Ma Li has difficulties with finding a proper wife.
Finally Lu Yao is offering a healthy amount for Ma Li to cover the wedding costs, but has a condition: he wants to substitute Ma Li in the bridal room for the first three days.
Ma Li is upset of course, but has no alternative and agrees.
Ma Li is suffering for three days after the wedding. On the forth day, he angrily rushes into the bridal room in the dark, grumpily covering his head with the blanket and goes to sleep. His wife starts to complaining then: “Dear husband, for three days you’ve been studying a book all night long, and now you cover your head and fall asleep, how is this fair?”
Ma Li realizes that Lu Yao was playing a prank with him, of course he hasn’t touched his wife. Ma is annoyed but relieved as well.
Later Ma Li passes his exams and becomes a high ranking official in the capital, but Lu Yao falls on hard times, and decides to ask financial aid from Ma Li. When he arrives to the capital, Ma Li is happy, offering him drinks, but when Lu Yao tells about the real purpose of his coming, Ma Li pretends to not hear it at all. After several days, Ma Li asks Lu Yao: “Now you are going home, right? Don’t let your wife to worry.”
Lu Yao is very annoyed, but has no other option and returns home.
He’s almost at home when he hears heart-wrenching crying out of his house. He hurries in, what happened? His wife and children are bitterly crying over a coffin. It turns out that previously Ma Li sent a coffin to Lu’s house with the news that due to a serious illness, Lu Yao died in the capital.
Lu Yao is upset, but when he’s opening the coffin, it’s full of gold and silver, and there’s a letter from Ma Li: “You let my wife waiting in vain for three days, I let your wife to have a good cry.”
King Ping sends his treacherous official, Fei Wuji, to the state of Qin to find a bride for his son, Prince Jian. Seeing the beauty of the Qin princess, King Ping decides to keep her for himself as a concubine, and forces the servant maid, Ma Zhaoyi, to impersonate the princess and marry his son.
Three years after, the king’s conspiracy gets revealed, so the king’s next evil plan is to murder Crown Prince Jian. The honest Wu She openly criticises the king, and gets in big trouble. The crown prince entrusts Ma Zhaoyi and their little son to Wu She’s brave son, Wu Zixu, and flees.
Ma Zhaoyi follows him with Wu Zixu to protect her, and they arrive to a Buddhist shrine called Chen Yu Si. The soldiers chasing them surround the temple. Ma Zhaoyi realises there’s no way out, so she entrusts her baby to Wu Zixu, then jumps into a well and dies. Wu Zixu later manages to break out of the trap, and escapes with the young prince.
《秦香莲》Muyang Juan (Shepherd Story) or《牧羊卷》Zhu Hen Ji (Story of the Red Scar)
Zhu Chundeng’s elderly father from Shangdong is ordered to join the army to subdue Huang Long’s riot. To save their sickish dad, Zhu Chundeng and his younger brother Zhu Chunke volunteer instead and go to Pingxi.
Zhu Chunke’s evil mother, Mrs. Song wants to lay her hands on Zhu Chundeng’s property, and sends his nephew, Song Cheng to wait at the roadside and kill Zhu.
Song Cheng ties up Zhu Chundeng in his sleep, but fortunately a hunter, Li Ren shows up and chases Song away.
Zhu Chundeng joins the army, and with the help of Li Ren’s bow defeats Huang Long. For his achievements he’s granted the title “Marquis of Pingxi”, and his younger brother, Chunke is also appointed as minister. Li Ren is promoted to commander. They plan to return to their hometown in glory, and immediately behead Song Cheng.
Song Cheng at home tells his mom that Zhu Chundeng fell in battle. Mrs. Song forces Chundeng’s wife, Zhao Jintang to marry Song Cheng, but she resists. When Song Cheng tries to molest her, Zhao Jintang squeezes Song’s hands into the hand mill.
The upset Mrs. Song sends Zhao Jintang and Zhu’s old mother to the mountains to herd sheep, hoping they will starve and freeze there. She even takes Mrs. Zhu’s expensive robe. Soon the news arrive that Zhu Chundeng is on the way home! Mrs. Song and Song Cheng dig two false graves, and falsely inform Chundeng that his wife and mother are dead.
Meanwhile Song Cheng tries to escape, but Li Ren recognizes him and he gets arrested. The grief-stricken Zhu Chundeng visits the family tomb, offers sacrifice and fasts for seven days.
Zhao Jintang and Mrs. Zhu accidentally arrive to the same place, and beg for food. After Mrs. Zhu eats the leftover food they got, she recognizes their family tomb and weeps bitterly. Zhu Chundeng hears the crying, invites Zhao Jinteng inside and asks about their misfortune. Zhao Jinteng is very thin, Zhu Chundeng’s appearance also changed, but when Zhu sees the scar on Jinteng’s palm, he finally recognizes his wife.
The whole family has a happy reunion, Zhu Chunke, who didn’t know anything about his mother’s evil deeds, also pays respect. They invite Mrs. Song in, who quickly flees upon seeing her conspiracy is exposed.
Xue Rong’s wife and his concubine are on bad terms. When Concubine Zhao gives birth to a son, she’s forced to abandon the child at a distant place.
An old couple, Zhang Yuanxiu and his wife, who make straw sandals for a living, find the baby and raise him as their own child. They give him the name Zhang Jibao.
Thirteen years later, Zhang Jibao meets his birth mother at the Cool Breeze Pavilion, and Concubine Zhao takes him with her. The grieving foster parents fall ill, and visit the pavilion day by day, waiting for their son to return.
Meanwhile Zhang Jibao becomes top scholar. Once he is on the way, and takes a rest in the Cool Breeze Pavilion. His foster parents recognize him, but the ungrateful Jibao refuses to know them, treats the old couple as beggars and gives them two-hundred copper coins. The embittered Mrs. Zhang throws the coins into his face, then the two elders commit suicide and fall to the ground in front of the pavilion.
Moments later, the ungrateful Zhang Jibao is struck to death by lightning.
《秦香莲》 Qin Xianglian
An ambitious scholar, Chen Shimei is going to the capital to take the imperial examinations. He scores as number one scholar, also makes a tremendous career advancement when he marries into the imperial family and becomes the consort of the Emperor’s daughter. However, he forgets to mention that he already has a wife and two children who he left behind in a distant village.
Meanwhile Chen’s old parents die of starvation, and Qin Xianglian finally comes to Kaifeng with the two kids, to get news about Chen Shimei.
At the capital, Chen claims he doesn’t even know them, what’s more, he orders his bodyguard to kill his wife and both children. However, moved by Qin Xianglian’s sad story, Han Qi is unable to slaughter a woman and two children, and kills himself instead.
Chen Shimei meets his fate when Qin Xianglian’s case is investigated by Bao Zheng. Bao makes arrangements to confront Chen and her wife, but Chen Shimei refuses to admit his fault. In the court, Bao sentences him to death by decapitation, even though the Empress dowager and the princess protest against the verdict.
《琼林宴》Qiong Lin Yan (Banquet for Successful Candidates)
This play has four acts: “问樵” (Asking the Woodman), “闹府” (Disturbance at the Official Residence), “打棍” (Beaten Up) and “出箱” (Coming Out of the Trunk).
Fan Zhongyu goes to the capital with his wife and his son to take the imperial examinations. On the way back home, a tiger attacks his son, moreover his wife is kidnapped and taken to the house of the retired official, Ge Dengyun.
Fan Zhongyu is extremely worried and goes almost insane. Following the guidance of a woodcutter, Fan goes to the Ge residence. Under pretence of hospitality, Ge Dengyun gets Fan Zhongyu drunk, and orders Ge Hu to assassinate Fan. However, Ge Hu murders Sha Shen instead, and Ge Dengyun accuses Fan with the crime. He beats Fan to death, hides the corpse into a trunk and abandons it outside the town.
Meanwhile Fan scored as top scholar in the exams, and the heralds look after him. They are low on money, see the trunk and open it, hoping for some valuable goodies, but the “resurrected” Fan Zhongyu comes out of the trunk instead. Unfortunately he acts like a lunatic and the two heralds run away.
《桑园寄子》Sangyuan Ji Zi (Child Abandoned in the Mulberry Garden)
During the Eastern Jin invasion, the governor of Ruyang, Deng Yan flees from calamity and carries his son, his sister-in-law and his nephew with him. In the chaos he loses touch with his sister-in-law, and has to take care of the two children alone. But he’s able to carry only one.
First he sets out with his own son, but returns when the other child pretends he’s dying. Then he sets out with his nephew on his back, but returns again because now his son pretends he’s dying. Finally he decides to save his nephew and abandon his own child.
He tricks his son into a mulberry garden, ties him to a tree and leaves with the other child on his back. Fortunately Deng’s sister-in-law finds the abandoned boy later, saves him and both go to Tongguan, where the whole family has a reunion.
《三娘教子》San Niang Jiao Zi (How the Third Wife Was Teaching the Son)
Ming dynasty Confucian scholar Xue Guang is going on a business trip, leaving his wife, Mrs. Zhang, his two concubines, Mrs. Liu and Mrs. Wang, his son Xue Yi (born from Liu) and an old servant, Xue Bao at home.
In Zhenjiang, Xue Guang meets a person from his home village, and asking him to deliver 500 oz. silver to his family. “Unexpectedly” this man embezzles the money, and buries an empty coffin at a desolate area outside the town. Then he’s informing the Xue family about the sad news that Xue Guang is dead.
Later the family is gradually falling apart, Zhang and Liu are unable to endure the poor circumstances, and one after another remarry, leaving Xue Yi behind. The third wife, Wang Qun-e is deeply despises the other two, remains true to her oath and bears all the bitter hardships. She’s weaving cloth to make a living, and sharing her earnings with the old servant, Xue Bao, also she’s sending the son to school.
At the school his schoolmates make fun of Xue Yi since he has no mother. He furiously returns home and refuses to accept the third wife as his mother. Wang Qun-e is unable to restrain her anger, takes a knife and destroys her weaving. Fortunately Xue Bao is there to calm her down and convinces the child to go back to school and accept punishment for his offensive behaviour. Though when San Niang wants to beat up the son, Xue Bao is defending him and finally no domestic violence is done on the stage.
Xue Yi goes back to school and makes determined efforts to finish his studies. Later he and Xue Guang both win top marks in the imperial examinations. Father and son return home in honour and glory, and finally the whole family has a reunion.
《十老安刘》Shi Lao An Liu (Ten Elders Pacify Liu)
Liu Ying (Emperor Hui of Han), son of Liu Bang and Lü Zhi dies. His mother, Empress Dowager Lü usurps the throne, starts to eliminate Liu’s descendants and grant titles and nobility to all her kin.
Ten senior ministers and elders who are loyal to Liu Bang urge Liu’s younger son, Liu Chang to launch a military campaign against Empress Lü, but he’s unable to do that because Lü Zhi is his foster mother.
Kuai Che, Luan Bu, Li Zuoju reveal the truth that it was exactly Empress Lü who killed his birth mother, but Liu Chang wants to see the document that proves it. They send out Tian Zichun to steal the document, but he fails. ThenChen Ping asks the guard of the imperial documents, Zhang Cang to see the scroll, but turns out that Empress Lü burnt it. Fortunately Zhang Cang’s son, Zhang Xiuyu made a copy before.
After seeing the scroll, Liu Chang, Liu Zhang and their soldiers surround Chang’an Palace and destroy Lü’s forces. Empress Lü kills herself in defeat, and Liu Heng (Emperor Wen of Han) succeeds to the throne. Thus, ten elders do the Liu clan justice.
《试妻大劈棺》Shi Qi Da Pi Guan (Testing the Wife – Splitting the Coffin Open)
Zhuang Zhou left home to achieve the Dao. On his way back home, he meets a young widow, who is impatiently blowing the fresh grave of his deceased husband with a fan, to make it dry quickly so that she can remarry. Zhuang Zhou becomes curious what would his wife do if he died? He decides to test his wife, Mrs. Tian, and soon after his arrival at home, he pretends illness and dies a false death.
Using his Daoist skills, he brings a statue to life to act in his service, and soon re-appeares as his own student, Chu Wangsun, who feels so sorry for his teacher that stays with the mourning family for hundred days. Mrs. Tian falls in love with Wangsun, and they plan to marry.
One night Chu Wangsun pretends to have a terrible and fatal headache, and says that human brain tissue dissolved in hot wine may be a cure. Mrs. Tian finds out that the brain tissue of a corpse is also good for 49 days. She takes an axe and though she feels bad about it, hacks the coffin of his husband. In this moment, Zhuang Zhou suddenly “comes to life”, and reprimands his wife.
Mrs. Tian feels so ashamed that she commits suicide.
《诗文会》Shi Wen Hui (A Meeting by Poetry)
Shen Zhong decides to pick the future husband of his daughter, Shen Wan-e by a poetry competition. Gu Ziyu and two other people apply. Gu Ziyu has outstanding talent, but the other two are ignorant and incompetent. At Shen Zhong’s residence, they get the task to write a poem about a green peony tree. The two simpletons struggle while Gu Ziyu is writing a nice poem. But the idiots are cheating: their servants secretly deliver them a decent poem. Che Buqing was asking his younger sister, Jingfang to help him out, while Niu Siwen was hiring a gifted scholar, Xie Ying to write poetry.
Shen Zhong is judging the poems: Niu Siwen wins first place, Che Buqing comes as second and Gu Ziyu as third. Though Shen Zhong isn’t impressed by Niu Siwen’s disgraceful appearance, so he sets up one more condition: passing the imperial examinations. Of course, Niu and Che are not able to accomplish this task.
Che Buqing at home is showing the winning poem to his sister who is very impressed by the talent of the poet. Niu Siwen now wants to marry Jingfang, and asks Che Buqing to introduce him to his sister as the one who wrote the excellent poem. Jingfang wants to test his skills, so Niu is depending on Xie Ying’s talent again, but when the young scholar sees how intelligent and beautiful Che Jingfang is, he’s unable to deceive her, and deliberately comes up with a stupid poem. Che Jingfang is disappointed, of course.
Xie Ying meets with Gu Ziyu and they go to the examinations together. When Che Buqing and Niu Siwen hear that the preliminary round of the imperial examinations has finished and the successful candidates are already published, they disguise themselves as if they were top scorers, then go to the Shen house to escort the bride. Gu Ziyu also comes, together with Xie Ying and everything gets exposed. Shen Zhong accepts Gu Ziyu as son-in-law, and Xie Ying also proposes Che Jingfang. Jingfang is suspicious at the beginning, but Xie Ying is proving her that he’s actually a learned and talented man, so she agrees to marry him. Only Niu and Che, the two clowns were unable to bag themselves a wife.
《锁麟囊》Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse)
A wealthy girl from Dengzhou, Xue Xiangling, is given a purse containing jewels as a wedding gift by her mother.
It so happens that a girl from a poor family, Zhao Shouzhen, is also married on the same day. When the two girls take shelter from the rain in a pavilion, Shouzhen is saddened by her own family’s destitution and cries. Xiangling generously offers her the purse.
Six years later, there is a flood at Dengzhou, and Xiangling’s own family as well as her paternal family are forced to leave their native land. Xiangling is separated from her family on the way and ends up in Laizhou. When she hears that the Lu family is looking for a nanny for their son, she applies and gets hired.
One day, when she is playing with the boy, she sees her own purse placed in centre position on the altar table. She is saddened by the turn of fate and cries. Madam Lu, who turns out to be Zhao Shouzhen, wants to know why and finds out she was the generous lady who bestowed the purse. They treat her as an honourable guest and help to re-unite her with her family.
《锁五龙》Suo Wu Long (Subduing Five Dragons)
Li Shimin, Prince of Qin of Tang, invades the dukedom of Zheng and defeats its Duke Wang Shichong.
Shan Xiongxin charges into the Tang camp alone and is captured by Wei Chigong. Li admires his fighting skills and persuades him to defect to his side, which Shan refuses. He is sentenced to death, incarcerated and sent to the execution ground.
Before he is executed, his old friends Xu Maogong, Luo Cheng and Cheng Yaojin from the Wagang stronghold come to bid him farewell. Shan is determined to die.
《苏武牧羊》 Su Wu Muyang (Su Wu Herding Sheep)
Since Han general Wei Qing’s major victory over the Xiongnu, several years pass by without friction between the two states. However, despite of peace negotiations, the Xiongnu’s intention is still to invade the Han mainlands.
Hu Kedan, the highest Xiongnu military officer is coming with armed forces against Peng Yin. Su Wu, ordered by the Han emperor, comes to help out by suing for peace as an envoy.
Wei Lü previously was a Han ambassador who surrendered to the Xiongnu, and later was put in an important position by the chanyu. He tries to convince Su Wu to surrender too, but Su Wu refuses to go against the feudal ethical code and remains faithful to the Han emperor. Su Wu meets the chanyu who gets offended because Su Wu doesn’t kneel down before him. Su Wu explains he’s not obliged to, since he’s a messenger of peace on imperial order, holding the yak-tail decorated rod. The chanyu gets furious, and accepts the treacherous Wei Lü’s suggestion to send Su Wu to Beihai at the Baikal lake to herd sheeps, with the condition that when the rams give birth, he can return.
The Han emperor sends an expedition force of 3000 soldiers under Li Ling to crush Xiongnu, but he gets defeated and captured by Hu Kedan. Li Ling refuses to surrender to the Xiongnu, so the chanyu wants to execute him, but since Li Ling is a brave general and his military skills would come handy to the Xiongnu state, Hu Kedan suggests better let Princess Huayan betrothed with him. Li Ling finally yields to the temptation of high position and great wealth, he doesn’t have another option anyways, and gives in. Su Wu is greatly disfavouring Li Ling’s decision. He was hoping that the Han emperor will send troops to his rescue, but Li Ling is showing him that the Xiongnu-Han borders are dark, no-one comes from the South. Su Wu is very sorrowful and stays in Beihai.
Ten years go by. The new Xiongnu ruler, Kun Yandi is in need of talented officials. Li Ling tells him about the exiled Su Wu, and suggests that in order to gain his alliance, they should send him a wife, maybe that makes him surrender. They choose Hu Kedan’s daughter, Hu Ayun as bride.
Meanwhile Kun Yandi gets a letter from the Han emperor, inquiring about Su Wu’s whereabout. Kun Yandi realizes that Su Wu is a great talent, and falsely informs the Han government that Su Wu is dead for many years.
Hu Ayun arrives to the palace. Kun Yandi, seeing how beautiful she is, wants her to become an imperial concubine, but the girl refuses, so as intended, she’s sent to Su Wu as a wife.
Su Wu is grumpy at their first meeting, but with due course of time the two get more and more fond of each other, and despite the hard conditions at the desolate place, Hu Ayun becomes Su Wu’s devoted wife, also she gives birth to a child. Su Wu is still holding to his staff, using it to herd the sheep, though the decorations one after another fall off.
Another nine years later the Later Han courtyard gets informed that Su Wu is still alive. The emperor dispatches Fu Jiezi to the Xiongnu on a diplomatic mission, to get Su Wu back. In the first run the chanyu is denying that Su Wu is alive, but after Fu Jiezi is facing him with the fact that a wild goose was shot in the Han imperial garden, and the bird had a message attached to his feet in which Su Wu asked for help, he confesses. Kun Yandi is willing to return Su Wu to his homeland, but refuses to let his wife to accompany him. Seeing that his husband, though heartbroken, is willing to part with her and the child, Ayun commits suicide – firstly because she’s already bond to Su Wu by deep emotions and unwilling to live without him, secondly to make it easier for Su Wu to leave. Finally Su Wu and his child return to Han land.
《探阴山》Tan Yinshan (Visiting the Yin Mountain)
The story is set during Song Renzong’s reign. At a cheerful Lantern festival a young woman, Liu Jinchan, is separated from her family in the crowd. Walking home alone, she encounters a scoundrel, Li Bao, who tries to rape her but fails. In the end he strangles the girl to death. To cover his tra cks, Li Bao moves the corpse to Yan Chasan’s doorway to frame him. The case isn’t investigated properly, Yan Chasan gets arrested and sentenced to death. He files an appeal to Bao Zheng, complaining about the injustice.
Because the circumstances of Liu Jinchan’s death are unclear, Bao Zheng descends into theunderworld to ask the underworld judge, Pan Guan, to check the case in the register of life and death. Pan Guan’s book of death clearly indicates that the rapist and murderer was Yan Chasan.
Bao Zheng starts his own private investigation, going to the Yin Mountains to ask Liu Jinchan’s ghost about the truth. The ghost tells him that the real culprit was Li Bao, that Li Bao’s maternal uncle is Pan Guan and the corrupt judge altered the register of life and death without authority!
Bao Zheng gets furious about the fraud and orders Pan Guan to correct the book. Pan Guan doesn’t admit his fault, finally Bao Zheng gets angry and beheads him. Returning to the world of the living, he releases Yan Chasan and beheads Li Bao too.
《挑滑车》Tiao Hua Che (Overturning the War Chariots)
The state of Southern Song is under enemy attack. General Yue Fei and his army fight with Wushu of Jin, but are trapped on Ox Head Mountain. Wushu knows that there are many valiant warriors in Yue Fei’s camp, a factor that would make winning difficult. So he orders to have heavy metal pulleys stationed at strategic points on the mountain paths to stop Yue’s army from breaking out.
When Yue Fei appoints his generals to lead their troops in a formation on the battlefield, Gao Chong finds he is not assigned and confronts Yue, who only orders him to stay put in the camp and keep the Song standard flying. When Gao sees the Song army losing in the battle, he rushes in and turns the situation around.
As the enemies retreat, Gao is in hot pursuit. Wushu orders to release the iron pulleys down the slopes to thwart Gao’s advances. He manages to use his spear to overturn eleven of the pulleys, but his strength gives out and he is crushed to death under the heavy wheels of the twelfth.
《铁弓缘》Tie Gong Yuan (Romance of the Iron Bow)
Chen Xiuying and her mother run a small teahouse in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. Shi Lun, the son of the Commander of the resident forces, Shi Sulong, sees Xiuying and is smitten by her beauty. He attempts to take her by force, and is chased out of the teahouse by Mrs. Chen and given a good beating along the way. A young man, Kuang Zhong, happening to pass by, brings Mrs. Chen round and accompanies her home.
Back at the teahouse, Kuang spots an iron bow – the Chen family’s heirloom, and recognising it to be of uncommon pedigree, is filled with admiration. He and Xiuying agree to a game of archery, and the two are soon betrothed as they find a good match in each other.
Shi Lun, however, becomes terribly jealous of Kuang, and plots to kill Kuang and his father. Xiuying uncovers the scheme, disguises herself as a man and kills Shi, before fleeing with her mother into the night.
They escape to Erlong Mountain, where the leader at the fort, Guan Fengying, mistakes Xiuying to be her fiance, Wang Fugang. Xiuying and her mother decide to go along with the misimpression and follow Guan to the mountain fort, where Xiuying trains the men in preparation for battle. She then leads them to Taiyuan to take down Shi Lun’s father once and for all. The Commander first sends the real Wu Fugang into battle, and on meeting defeat, calls back Kuang and his father from their posts and orders them to ride into battle. Thus the couple meets on the battlefield yet neither recongises the other, with Xiuying in a man’s armour and Kuang having grown a beard and a moustache – until Xiuying draws out her iron bow. The two couples – Kuang and Xiuying, and Guan and Wang – are happily reunited.
《文姬归汉》Wenji Gui Han (Wenji Returns to her Homeland)
Li Que, Guo Si and Yang Feng attempt to overthrow Emperor Xian of Han (Liu Xie). Meanwhile, King of the Southern Xiongnu state seizes the opportunity of general disorder and sends Zuo Xianwang and Bai Boshuai to invade inner Han territories. Minister Cai Yong’s daughter, Cai Yan (Wenji) flees from calamity, but Zuo Xianwang captures her. After relocating in Xiongnu land, Cai Wenji becomes Zuo’s concubine and bears him two sons.
Twelve years later, Han minister Cao Cao finds out that Cai Wenji lives in the Xiongnu state, and dispatches envoy Zhou Jin to claim her back. Cai Yan loves her husband, but as a patriot she feels compelled to go. She visits Wang Zhaojun’s tomb, another political bride, and cries bitterly. At the border of the two states, she bids farewell to her sons, and finally returns to her home country.
Li Shichang, a silk merchant from Nanyang is on the way home after his business trip. He arrives to Dingyuan county, but has to take shelter from the rain in the poor home of the Zhao family.
Seeing the money of Li, Zhao Da comes up with an evil scheme: he stirs deadly poison into the wine, and Li Shichang dies. Zhao incinerates the corpse in the oven, and makes it into a black pot. He owes money to the shoemaker, Zhang Biegu, and gives him the black pot as payment.
To his surprise, Li’s ghost comes out of the pot and vents his grievances. Zhang goes to Judge Bao’s court with the pot, and after the trial, justice is done.
《战樊城》Zhan Fancheng (The Battle of Fancheng) - During the Warring States period (475-221 BC), Wu She, minister of Chu State is daring enough to directly criticize the king, Ping Wang (Ji Yijiu). His “well wisher”, Fei Wuji isn’t hesitant to frame Wu She, as a result the king orders his execution.
Wu She has two sons residing in Fancheng, Wu Shang and Wu Yun (courtesy name Wu Zixu). Fei Wuji wants to get rid of them too, and forces Wu She to write a letter and ask them to come to the capital. Wu Shang is willing to go, but Wu Yun foresees that they would meet their death, and holds his brother back. Finally they come to an agreement: in order to show filial obedience, Wu Shang goes, but Wu Yun escapes, hoping that he can gather an army and return for revenge.
As suspected, both Wu She and Wu Shang get executed. King Ping sends out an order to arrest Wu Yun, and dispatches Wu Chenghei and his army to capture Wu. Wu Chenghei’s soldiers fail, Wu Yun gets through the city walls and flees to Wu state.
《长亭会》Chang Ting Hui (Meeting in the Long Pavilion) - On the way, Wu Yun meets an old friend, Shen Baoxu and his troop of Chu soldiers. Wu Yun tells him the whole sad story, and Shen Baoxu advises him to settle in Wu.
《文昭关》Wenzhao Guan (Wenzhao Pass) - Wu Yun arrives to the Wenzhao Pass, but unfortunately he cannot get through since his “Wanted” posters are already on display. He’s hiding in the home of a hermit, Dong Gaogong for seven days, and due to the constant worrying his hair and beard turn grey.
Dong Gaogong has a friend, Huangfu Ne, who looks exactly like Wu Yun. They exchange clothes and go to the pass. Huangfu Ne arrives first, and immediately gets arrested. He stirs up a great fuss, meanwhile Wu Yun sneaks through the pass. Finally Dong Gaogong testifies that Huangfu Ne is his friend, not Wu Yun, thus he gets released.
《芦中人》Luzhongren (The Man in a Hurry) - The manhunt for Wu Yun continues, and he flees to the riverbank. There’s no ferry, just a fisherman with a small vessel. Wu Yun asks him hurriedly to cross the river. The fisherman recognizes him, helps the worn out hero and accepts nothing in return. Wu Yun comes ashore and leaves, but soon he returns and asks the fisherman not to inform the soldiers about his whereabouts. Seeing that Wu doesn’t trust him, the old man throws himself into the river and dies. Wu Zixu is too late to stop him, he only gazes at the ripples in remorse and finally leaves.
《浣纱河》Huan Sha He (Washing Silk at the River) - Wu almost reaches the borders of Wu state, but he’s all worn-out and hungry. He sees a silk-washing girl on the riverbank, and has no other option but to beg for food. The girl gives him food what Wu gladly accepts. From his manner, the girl figures out that Wu isn’t a beggar, and asks what happened to him. Wu Yun tells her the story, and unintentionally they start a lengthy chatter. Just like in the case of the fisherman, Wu leaves but returns shortly after, and asks the girl not to inform the soldiers about him. The girl feels that her chastity is ruined anyways after the conversation, and jumps into the river just like the old man.
《鱼藏剑》Yu Cang Jian (Sword Inside the Fish) (alternate spelling: 《鱼肠剑》”Fish-gut Sword”) - Upon his arrival to Wu state, Wu Yun meets a brave young man, Zhuan Zhu, and they become sworn brothers. Wu has to beg for alms at the market to maintain himself.
One day, prince Ji Guang has an outing, and hears Wu Yun’s reed pipe. He figures out from the tune and Wu’s accent that he’s not an ordinary beggar, and appoints him at the official residence. Ji Guang wants to assassinate his cousin Ji Liao, the current despotic ruler of Wu state, and take the throne for himself. Wu Yun recommends Zhuan Zhu for the task. Their plan is to disguise Zhuan Zhu as chef at the king’s banquet, and hide the murder weapon into the king’s favorite dish, a roast fish.
《专诸别母》Zhuan Zhu Bie Mu (Zhuan Zhu Leaves His Mother) - After getting the task of murdering Ji Liao, Zhuan Zhu returns home and bids farewell to his mother. Seeing that he’s somewhat reluctant to leave, Zhuan Zhu’s mother is preaching to his son for a while, then hangs herself to clear up Zhuan’s misgivings.
《刺王僚》Ci Wang Liao (Murdering Wang Liao) - According to the plans, Zhuan Zhu disguises himself as caterer and offers a delicious fish dish to Ji Liao at the banquet. Ji Liao knows well that Ji Guang, who’s also invited to the feast, isn’t loyal to him, thus surrounds himself with security guards and wears a protective vest under his garment. But the security check fails to discover the dagger hidden into the fish, and in the right moment, Zhuan Zhu stabs King Liao to death. Unfortunately he can’t escape after the assassination and pays with his life.
《打五将》Da Wu Jiang (Defeating Five Generals) - In the battle for the kingship, Wu Zixu defeats five generals and Ji Guang ascends the throne as King Helü.
Goujian, the king of Yue state is planning to send beautiful and well-trained women to Fuchai, the king of Wu state, in order to use Fuchai’s later obsession with them to weaken and conquer Wu. Shi Yiguang, a poor silk washing girl from Western (Xi) Zhuluo village is picked as one of the candidates.
After proper training, Xi Shi is escorted to Wu by minister Fan Li. They fall in love on the road, but their patriotic feelings surpass their devotion for each other and Xi Shi is delivered in order.
Goujian’s plan works; enchanted by Xi Shi’s beauty, Fuchai starts to neglect state affairs, and his obsession is finally leading to the fall of Wu.
《徐策跑城》Xu Ce Pao Cheng (Xu Ce Runs to the City Walls)
Xue Rengui, famous general of early Tang dynasty was framed by treacherous court official Zhang Tai, and his whole family was executed. A loyal state official, Xu Ce was replacing the smallest Xue baby, Xue Jiao with his own baby at the execution ground.
Once grown up, Xue Jiao is sending a letter to Xu Ce, informing him that he’s coming to Han Mountain to recruite soldier for the army of his aunt, Ji Luanying, in order to take revenge. Ji Luanying husband, Xue Gang, who previously was forced into exile at Qinglong, also comes to the mountain to join up the army and send troops to Chang’an.
Xu Ce is overjoyed when hearing the news, and despite his old age, he’s watching the family reunion from the city gate tower. Seeing the courageous spirit of the Xues, he wants to appeal for justice and ask the Emperor to kill and behead Zhang Tai, but he’s too old to ride a horse, nor he has a sedan, so he’s rushing to the royal court by foot.
《杨家将》Yangjia Jiang (Generals of the Yang Family)
《七郎托兆》Qilang Tuo Zhao (Ghost of Yang Yansi Tells the Events) - The ghost of Yang Jiye’s seventh son appears, and tells what happened previously. We get to know the followings:
Pan Hong attacked Liao state on imperial orders, and recommended Yang Jiye to lead the advance force. He commanded Yang and his sixth and seventh sons, Yang Yanzhao and Yang Yansi to battle, but he didn’t send reinforcements.
The Yangs got trapped in the Lianglang Mountains. Yang Yansi broke out of the siege, and returned to the Yanmen Pass to ask for help. Yang Yansi previously killed Pan Hong’s son, thus instead sending help, Pan got Yang drunk and shot him to death.
《李陵碑》Li Ling Bei (At the Tomb of Li Ling) or《碰碑》Peng Bei (Suicide at the Tomb) - The dispirited Yang Jiye and Yanzhao wait for the reinforcements and Yansi, but nothing happens. Finally Yang Jiye sends his sixth son, Yanzhao to the imperial court for help, but again, no-one comes to the rescue.
Seeing that his men and horses freeze and starve, Yang cries bitterly at the tomb of general Li Ling, and commits suicide by crashing his head on Li’s stele.
《清官册》Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials) or 《夜审潘洪》Ye Shen Pan Hong (Night Interrogation of Pan Hong) - When the arrested Pan Hong arrives to the capital, Emperor Taizong orders imperial censor Liu to interrogate him. The corrupt Liu accepts bribes from imperial concubine Pan, Pan Hong’s daughter, but the loyal Zhao Defang beats him to death with his golden truncheon, moreover invites Kou Zhun, county magistrate of Xiagu to the capital to review the case.
Kou is afraid first, but the Emperor promotes him to imperial censor. Concubine Pan tries to bribe Kou Zhun too, but he refuses to accept the money and reports the case to Zhao Defang.
At the trial, Pan Hong is arrogant and denies everything. Kou Zhun pretends to acquit Pan, but together with Zhao Defang they have a secret plan. They set up a made-up court of the Underworld, and wearing ferocious masks, interrogate Pan in the night. Pan Hong is scared out of his pants and confesses everything.
《杨门女将》Yangmen Nü Jiang (Female Generals of the Yang Family)
She Taijun, the 100 year old great-grandmother of the Yang family, who lost her husband and five out of eight sons on the battlefield, is holding a 50 year birthday celebration at Tianbo Mansion for her grandson, Yang Zongbao.
Suddenly, sorrowful news arrive: Yang Zongbao, who was guarding the borders of the country, has died in the battle while fighting the forces of Western Xia. The news shock the royal court. The Song dynasty imperial court wants to ask for peace with the invading Western Xia to prevent further bloodshed.
She Taijun tries to hide her sorrow and speaks against the proponents of peace talks. She orders the whole family, including her widowed daughter-in-law and grand-daughter-in-law Mu Guiying, to go into battle to the front lines.
Her great-grandson, Yang Wenguang, with his mother Mu Guiying’s consent, also requests to set off to war with the family, but his paternal grandmother, Chai Junzhu, disagrees as Wenguang is the only remaining male heir of the Yang clan.
She Taijun suggests that Yang Wenguang compete with his mother in a martial arts contest, with the outcome deciding the debate.
Yang Qiniang, wife of She Taijun’s seventh son, gives advice to Wenguang and he defeats his mother in a spear fight, and is permitted to follow the troops to the border station.
On the battlefield, the king of Western Xia is defeated in a violent skirmish, forcing him to withdraw to his camp. By occupying a natural stronghold, he plans to lure Yang Wenguang into the valley in order to threaten the Yang dynasty itself, but She Taijun and Mu Guiying see through his intrigue.
Horsegroom boy Zhang Biao informs the Yangs that when Yang Zongbao was still alive, he explored the valley and discovered a plank road built on trestles across the cliff, which would allow going around the natural barrier in order to raid the enemy camp with a surprise attack.
To encourage Yang Wenguang, She Taijun gives him the steed named Bailong that previously belonged to Zongbao. The shortcut road is difficult and dangerous, but Mu Guiying, his son and Yang Qiniang follow Zhang Biao’s directions, climbing up the plank road, and finally with the help of the veteran horse and an old man who is collecting herbs in the mountains, they break into the valley and annihilate the enemy.
《英台抗婚》Yingtai Kang Hun (Yingtai Resists Marriage)
Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo have been classmates in Phoenix Hill for three years and have grown to be very close. At their parting, Yingtai invents the existence of a sister and tells Shanbo to come and propose within a hundred days.
When Yingtai gets home, she is unaware that her father has betrothed her to the son of the Ma family. One day when she sees the betrothal gifts, she mistakes them to be Shanbo’s and is happy and shy. She is shocked and indignant when she knows the truth, and objects to the arranged marriage. Father and daughter fall out.
After seeing Yingtai and having told the irreversible situation, Shanbo dies of a broken heart. A tearful Yingtai mourns Shanbo in front of his grave.
《阴阳错》Yinyang Cuo (Yin-yang Confusion)
The wife of Fan Zhongyu, Bai Gui E (sometimes Bai Yulian) is commiting suicide after Ge Dengyun is killing his husband. Their bier is set up in a Daoist temple.
Zhai Shen (sometimes Qu Shen) from Shanxi is on his way to the capital to collect a debt. Halfway he sees the abandoned black donkey at the Fan house, and takes the animal with him. He’s lodging for the night in the house of Li Bao and his wife. The Lis see Zhai’s money, and Li Bao is strangling him for his property.
The black donkey goes to Bao Zheng’s residence to complain. Bao travels to the netherworld to explore the situation.
By mistake, Zhai Shen and Lady Bai reincarnated in each other’s body, male and female are reversed. Bao Zheng is using the magical “yinyang” mirror to separate their souls and sort out the case. Each soul returns to the correct body.
Finally justice is done with the beheading of Ge Dengyun and Li Bao. The Fan couple has a reunion.
《一捧雪》Yi Peng Xue (A Handful of Snow)
During the reign of cruel Ming Emperor Jiajing, Tang Qin desires to get Xue Yan, the beautiful concubine of his former benefactor, Mo Huaigu for himself. Using a valuable “handful of snow” cup, he succeeds in framing Mo Huaigu.
Yan Shifan, son of corrupt minister Yan Song orders Qi Jiguang to behead Mo Huaigu immediately. Mo Huaigu’s loyal servant, Mo Cheng is similar to his lord in appearance, thus sacrifices himself and gets beheaded.
《审头刺汤》Shen Tou Ci Tang (Examining the Head, Murdering Tang) – After beheading Mo Cheng, Qi Jiguang is sending the head to the capital. Tang Qin says the head isn’t Mo Huaigu’s. On imperial orders, Liu Bing investigates the case and arrests Qi Jiguang.
Yan Shifang calls for Tang Qin and Liu Bing. Thanks to the hint of Xue Yan, Liu sees through Tang Qin’s plan of getting Xue Yan for himself. To save Qi Jiguang, Liu falsely identifies the head as Mo Huaigu’s, Tang persists it’s not the correct one. Xue Yan makes the final judgement: he identifies the head as Mo Huaigu’s and agrees to marry Tang Qin. Thus Tang Qin gives up on the whole trial.
Tang Qin is happy, but in the bridal room Xue Yan stabs him to death, after the revenge she commits suicide.
《游龙戏凤》You Long Xi Feng (Emperor Zhengde Meets Li Feng)
Emperor Zhengde (born Zhu Houzhao) disguises himself as a commoner and goes on an outing. He arrives to Meilong Village, and has a rest in the Li Long Inn. He immediately gets fond of the beautiful waitress, and starts to tease her: he steps on the dish towel that fell on the ground, and refuses to move away.
Upon inquiry, the girl tells the Emperor that she’s running the inn with his brother, who’s momentarily not at home. She’s so shy that even reluctant to tell her name.
Zhengde orders the best quality from everything. When Li Feng tells him just to leave the silver on the table, the Emperor continues provoking her and slaps Li Feng’s rear end with his folding fan, he even imitates her manner of speech. Finally he places the money on the table, but doesn’t let the girl take it.
She manages to pick up the money with a clever trick: she tells the Emperor there’s an ancient painting in the inn. Zhengde takes the bait and moves away from the table.
The money proves to be too much though, would even cover the expenses of feeding Zhengde’s horse with the high quality food, but he assures Li Feng she can keep the tip and buy herself something nice.
It’s already dark, the girl shows the way to the parlor. The Emperor tries to peep into Li Feng’s bedroom, but she gets indignant. Zhengde is more and more impressed. When he enters the parlor, Li Feng carefully locks the door between them before she starts to prepare the dinner. When finished, she loudly calls for the Emperor. Zhengde sneaks behind Li Feng in the dark and slightly hits her head with the folding fan.
Zhengde gets his just desserts for taking liberties with an innocent maiden: Li Feng hits him with the plate multiple times.
The Emperor is already head over heels in love. After the table is set out, he finds fault with everything. When he misses charming girls in bright clothes, Li Feng innocently thinks he wishes for red giant radish. (Li Feng mentions later that previously they offered such kind of entertainment but it was banned by the authorities.)
When the Emperor wants her to pour his wine, she refuses and tricks the guest again.
This time Li Feng says she saw a white rat in the inn. The Emperor moves away from the table to see the interesting animal, meanwhile the girl pours out the wine. Of course, this isn’t intimate enough and doesn’t suffice. Zhengde now threatens Li Feng by saying the silver he paid with comes from a robbery, and he’ll report her and his brother as receivers of stolen money. This works. Zhengde exploits the situation and touches Li Feng’s hands, his saucy behavior is “punished” with multiple pinches.
The Emperor tries to fix the blame on Li Feng for his own immoral behavior. The girl doesn’t want to seem coquettish and gets rid of the fancy flower in her hair. Zhengde picks up the flower and tries to stick it back into Li Feng’s hair, but she flees and blocks the door.
Now it’s Zhengde’s turn to trick the girl: he pretends her brother returned. Li Feng happily opens the door, the Emperor sneaks into the inn and refuses to go out again. When Li Feng is about to call for help, he reveals himself as Emperor Zhengde.
Convincing the young miss is not an easy task, he has to show the valuable jewel on his headdress then his imperial robe to prove his identity.
Li Feng thinks she’s in dreamland, kneels down and gets overjoyed when she finally ends up as beloved imperial concubine.
《玉堂春》Yu Tangchun (Story of Su San)
A famous courtesan, Su San and the son of Minister of Appointments, Wang Jinlong love each other. Su San changes her name to Yu Tangchun and they plan to get married.
When Jinlong uses up all his money, the procuress expels him from the brothel. Su San sends money to Jinlong to help him to take the imperial examinations.
The procuress is greedy, and sells Su San to a rich merchant, Shen Yanlin as a concubine. Shen’s wife is jealous, and tries to poison Su San, but accidentally his husband eats the poisoned meal and dies. It’s just natural that Shen’s wife accuses Su San with the mortal crime.
In order to review her judicial case, Su San is transported to Taiyuan. It turns out that the local governor is Wang Jinlong. During the interrogation, Jinlong can’t control himself, but assistant officials Pan Bizheng and Liu Bingyi carefully examine the details of the case and Su San gets rehabilitated. Finally the separated couple reunites.
《铡包勉》Zha Bao Mian (Beheading Bao Mian)
Bao Zheng is sent to Chengzhou to distribute relief grain. There’s a farewell dinner before he leaves. Wang Yanling, minister of war Zhao Bin and Bao’s nephew, Bao Mian are also present.
Bao Mian secretly reports to Zhao Bin that a county magistrate accepted the offered bribe. Zhao Bin deliberately announces this in front of everybody. As intended, Bao Zheng is sentencing his nephew to death by beheading.
Bao Mian offers gold to Zhao Bin if he’s willing to speak for him. Zhao does so, but Bao Zheng is unrelenting. Bao Mian is asking for the help of Wang Yanling then. Following Wang’s advice, Bao Mian falls on his knees and pleads for his life. This works on Bao Zheng.
After the incident, Zhao Bin asks for the promised gold, but Bao Mian refuses to give it to him. Zhao Bin at once makes a cold remark, ridiculing Bao Zheng.
Judge Bao gets angry and beheads Bao Mian on the spot, also he publicly reprimands Zhao Bin. Afterwards, he’s sending a letter to Bao Mian’s mother, Wu Miaozhen, explaining what happened.
《战宛城》Zhan Wancheng (Battle of Wancheng)
Late Han times. Cao Cao is attacking Wancheng, which was controlled by Zhang Xiu. Zhang is no match for Cao thus he surrenders.
Later Cao Cao gets attracted to Lady Zou, Zhang Xiu’s aunt, and takes her as his concubine. Zhang Xiu gets furious and wants revenge, but he’s afraid of Cao’s heroic general, Dian Wei.
Following the advice of his strategist, Jia Xu, he’s sending out Hu Che to steal Dian’s double halberd, and launches a surprise attack on Cao’s camp at night. After a long fight, Dian Wei is killed. Cao Cao escapes and Zhang Xiu is murdering Lady Zou.
《珠帘寨》Zhulianzhai (Zhulian Fort)
During the peasant rebellion of Huang Chao, Emperor Xizong of Tang flees to the Meiliang River, and sends envoy Cheng Jingsi to Shatuo to ask for Li Keyong’s help.
Because the Emperor relegated Li Keyong to a puny post before, the resentful Li refuses to send reinforcements. Minister Li Siyuan suggests Cheng Jingsi to turn to Mrs. Li. Despite all his military skills, Li Keyong is a hen-pecked husband, and his first and second wives “convince” him to send out the troops.
The vanguard lead by Li Siyuan arrives to the Zhulian Fort, but a bandit, Zhou Dewei blocks the way. None of Li Keyong’s eleven generals can defeat Zhou, thus Mrs. Li provoking his husband to fight Zhou Dewei personally.
The result of the duel is a tie, so they hold an arrow shooting competition. After Li Keyong shoots two golden eagles with one arrow, the impressed Zhou Dewei accepts defeat, and Li promotes him to his twelfth general.