|Water Margin character|
Wu Yong in a painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
|First appearance||Chapter 14|
|Also known as||Xuejiu|
|Rank||3rd, Knowledge Star (天機星) of 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Chief strategist of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Yuncheng County, Shandong|
Wu Yong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Knowledgeable Star", he ranks 3rd among the 36 Heavenly Spirits, the first third of the 108 Stars of Destiny.
The novel describes Wu Yong as a man with a fair and handsome face and a long beard – features often associated with learned and sophisticated men of the time. Although Wu Yong started out as a teacher in a village in Yuncheng County, he has quite a reputation in the jianghu for being a resourceful military strategist comparable to Zhuge Liang and Chen Ping. As a result, he is nicknamed "Knowledgeable Star" by his peers.
Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts
Wu Yong makes his first appearance when he shows up to stop a fight between the constable Lei Heng and Liu Tang, who has come to ask the village headman Chao Gai to join him in robbing a convoy of birthday gifts for the Imperial Tutor Cai Jing. Chao Gai then recruits five others – Wu Yong, Gongsun Sheng and the three Ruan brothers – to join their team. The seven men disguise themselves as date traders and, with Bai Sheng's help, trick the soldiers escorting the convoy into consuming wine spiked with drugs that will make them unconscious. Once the soldiers are knocked out, the seven men escape with the valuables.
Becoming an outlaw
Grand Secretary Liang Shijie, who prepared the birthday gifts for his father-in-law Cai Jing, is so furious when he learns of the robbery. He orders the magistrate of Yuncheng County to quickly track down and arrest the robbers. After the authorities confirm that Chao Gai is one of the robbers, they send the constable He Tao to lead soldiers to arrest him and his accomplices. However, with help from Zhu Tong, Lei Heng and Song Jiang, the seven men escape and flee to the Ruan brothers' home village. They defeat the soldiers in battle and retreat to Liangshan Marsh and join the outlaw band there.
Sensing that Liangshan's incompetent and selfish leader, Wang Lun, is unwilling to accept them, Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong to kill Wang Lun. Chao Gai then becomes the new chief of Liangshan, with Wu Yong taking the second position of leadership in the Liangshan hierarchy. Wu Yong then makes arrangements for the outlaws to defeat another group of soldiers sent to arrest them; the outlaws emerge victorious in the battle.
During his time at Liangshan, Wu Yong serves as the outlaw band's chief strategist and puts his talents to good use in various ways, be it recruiting more members or directing the outlaws in battles against government forces. Some notable examples include the rescue of Song Jiang and Dai Zong in Jiangzhou (江州; present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi), the battles pitting Liangshan against the Zhu Family Village and Zeng Family Fortress, and Lu Junyi's journey towards becoming an outlaw.
Although Wu Yong has misgivings about Song Jiang's idea of securing amnesty for the Liangshan outlaws, he ultimately supports Song Jiang in becoming Liangshan's chief after Chao Gai's death, and helps him convince the rest of the band that amnesty is their best option. After Emperor Huizong grants them amnesty, the Liangshan outlaws go on military campaigns against the invaders from the Liao Empire and rebel forces within the Song Empire.
Wu Yong is one of the few Liangshan heroes who survive all the campaigns. In recognition of his contributions, the Song imperial court awards him an official appointment and he holds office for some time. One night, Song Jiang and Li Kui appear in Wu Yong's dream and tell him that they have been forced to commit suicide by corrupt officials. Overwhelmed by grief, Wu Yong travels to Song Jiang's grave in Chuzhou (楚州; present-day Huai'an, Jiangsu), where he meets Hua Rong, who had the same dream as him. They commit suicide by hanging themselves from a tree near Song Jiang's grave.
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