|Water Margin character|
|Rank||20th, Speed Star (天速星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Scouting chief of Liangshan|
|First appearance||Chapter 38|
Dai Zong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 20th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Magic Traveller".
The novel describes Dai Zong as a man with a broad face, squarish mouth and lean body. He practises Taoist magic and has the ability to travel long distances at superhuman speed and stamina. He does so by tying magic talismans to his legs, and can travel up to 800 li in a day. He is nicknamed "Magic Traveller" because of his special skill.
Dai Zong is first introduced in the novel as the chief warden of a prison camp for exiled convicts in Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi). He is a close friend of Wu Yong, the chief strategist of the outlaw band at Liangshan Marsh.
Becoming an outlaw
Wu Yong helps Song Jiang write a letter to Dai Zong when Song is exiled to Jiangzhou for killing Yan Poxi. Dai Zong treats Song Jiang well after reading Wu Yong's letter and befriends him. When Song Jiang gets into trouble after writing a seditious poem while he was drunk, Dai Zong suggests to him to behave like a lunatic to trick Cai Jiu, the governor of Jiangzhou. However, Huang Wenbing, a corrupt minor official, notices that Song Jiang is pretending to be mad, so he proposes to Cai Jiu to use torture to force a confession out of Song. Song Jiang is unable to withstand the torture so he confesses. Dai Zong tries his best to help Song Jiang but his efforts are in vain.
Cai Jiu is unable to decide what to do with Song Jiang so he writes a letter to his father, the Imperial Tutor Cai Jing, to seek advice. Dai Zong is tasked with delivering the letter, but he brings the letter to Liangshan Marsh instead to seek help from the outlaws. Wu Yong invites Xiao Rang and Jin Dajian to forge a letter from Cai Jing, in which Cai Jiu is ordered to have Song Jiang escorted to the capital, Dongjing (東京; present-day Kaifeng, Henan), for further action. The outlaws intend to ambush the convoy along the way and rescue Song Jiang. However, Jin Dajian made a mistake with the seal on the letter. The fraud is exposed when Huang Wenbing scrutinises the letter and points out the error to Cai Jiu. Cai Jiu is furious and he orders his men to arrest Dai Zong, beat him up, and throw him into prison. He sentences Song Jiang and Dai Zong to death later.
Wu Yong realised the mistake shortly after Dai Zong left Liangshan, and had alerted the outlaws about it. Just when Song Jiang and Dai Zong are about to be executed, the Liangshan outlaws show up in Jiangzhou, storm the execution ground, and succeed in rescuing the two men. Dai Zong returns to Liangshan with them and joins the outlaw band.
Campaigns and death
Dai Zong becomes the chief of Liangshan's scouting team after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He is responsible for collecting intelligence on Liangshan's enemies and providing timely updates on the enemy's situation. He also serves as a messenger because of his magic travelling ability. For example, when Zhang Shun goes to find the physician An Daoquan to cure Song Jiang of a back tumour, Dai Zong used his magic ability to transport An back to Liangshan quickly to heal Song.
Dai Zong follows the Liangshan heroes on the campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. He makes great contributions during the campaigns and is one of the few surviving Liangshan heroes after the final campaign against the rebel leader Fang La. The emperor appoints him as an official in Yanzhou (兗州; around present-day Jining, Shandong) to recognise him for his contributions. He resigns after holding office for a short period of time and settles down in a temple, where he leads a reclusive life for a few months before dying.
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