Sometimes, an animal leaves a tragic mark in history due to its master’s mistake.
Shadow Runner, Chinese warlord Cao Cao’s favourite horse is a prime example of this. This famed horse earned that name because people praised it for being able to “outrun its own shadow.”
Shadow Runner’s legendary speed helped to save Cao Cao’s life, but it was not enough to save his own. In CE 197, Cao Cao invaded Wan City in Jing Province and its ruler, Zhang Xiu, surrendered without resistance on the advice of his advisor, Jia Xu. This easy victory made Cao Cao overconfident, and he bedded Zhang Xiu’s uncle’s widow, the family’s matriarch, during his subsequent stay at Wan.
Humiliated, the nephew ambushed Cao Cao, his son Cao Ang, and his nephew Cao Amin to take back his family’s honour. Cao Amin died during the initial attack and Dian Wei, Cao Cao’s head bodyguard perished while blocking the enemy to facilitate his lord’s escape.
When the father and son were riding their horses to flee, Shadow Runner took an arrow in the face and another in a foot and fell. Its master also took an arrow in his right arm. Cao Ang, too wounded to ride any more, handed over his own horse, so Cao Cao could escape and go back to their clan.
After the battle, the warlord regretted his lustful mistake and gave a funeral to honour the four.
Shadow Runner. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://threekingdoms.wikia.org/wiki/Shadow_Runner on November 12, 2019.
[Three Kingdoms]. (2017, May 29). Dian Wei’’s Death (Romance of The Three Kingdoms 1994) [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlioDrwqABM