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A Qing dynasty portrait of Deng Ai
|General of Cao Wei|
Yiyang, Jing Province
Chengdu, Yi Province
|Courtesy name||Shizai (traditional Chinese: 士載; simplified Chinese: 士载; pinyin: Shìzǎi; Wade–Giles: Shih-tsai)|
Deng Ai (197-264), courtesy name Shizai, was a military general of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. It was said that whenever he saw a hill or wide valley, he would immediately size up the best places to store grain and position troops. His talent was recognized by Sima Yi, who recommended him to take up greater appointments. Deng Ai also defended Wei from attacks led by Jiang Wei of the rival state of Shu Han. During these attacks, he had seemingly mastered the late Zhuge Liang's strategies, and was said to have made maps in his free time. In 257, along with his rival Zhong Hui, he defeated Jiang Wei at Duan Valley, using his maps to launch an ambush against Jiang Wei.
In 263, Deng Ai took part in the campaign against Shu with Zhong Hui. Jiang Wei fended them off somewhere south of Hanzhong. Deng Ai suggested to pass troops through Yinping (陰平) but Zhong Hui rejected the idea.
Deng Ai then carried out his own plan with his son Deng Zhong and troops and it turned out to be a great success. They eventually managed to enter Chengdu, and the Shu emperor Liu Shan surrendered. Zhong Hui and Deng Ai became fierce rivals due to the race to Chengdu, which Deng Ai won.
Jiang Wei, however, did not want Shu to fall. He determined that Zhong Hui wanted to rebel against Wei. They united, defamed Deng Ai, and ordered Wei Guan to capture him. Jiang Wei's plan failed and the Wei army killed Zhong Hui and Jiang Wei. These soldiers tried to rescue Deng Ai, but Wei Guan feared that they might take vengeance on him so he killed both Deng Ai and Deng Zhong.
Deng Ai, prior to his appointment, was often harassed because of his stuttering problem, a fault which he used to his advantage in speaking with his superiors, who often regarded his curious stuttering as jokes or witty expressions.
Deng Ai is first introduced as a playable character in the seventh installment of Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series. In the game, he is erroneously portrayed as an officer of Western Jin, although he died a year before it was founded.