Diao Chan also know as Tiaoch'an
Ordinary of Familiar name
: Sable Cicada
Household servant of Wang Yun
Instrumental in the success of the "Chain Plot
" against Dong Zhou
A minor character in the early parts of Luo Guan Zhong's epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel based on the Three Kingdoms period of China, circa 2nd century A.D. The character of Diao Chan is based on a historical figure as almost all of the novel's characters are.
Wang Yun served the emperor during the last days of the Han Dynasty. This gave him the severe misfortune of falling under the control of Dong Zhuo (Tung Cho). Yun became daily more and disgusted with Dong Zhou's actions. One day after returning home from a banquet, wherein he had witnessed Zhou take gleeful pride in torture committed before the assembled guests, Yun began to despair of ever freeing his lord, the emperor, from the control of Dong Zhou.
It so happened, that as Wang Yun stood in his garden, crying in frustration, that his household servant Diao Chan, whom Yun regarded as his daughter, saw Yun's distress. Diao Chan, who felt she owed Yun a repayment for his kindness to her, offered to help her lord in any way he saw fit. The offer managed to give Wang Yun a moment of insight. He knew what he could do.
Wang Yun sent an ornament to the warrior Lu Bu (Lu Pu), Dong Zhuo's greatest military leader. When Bu showed up at Yun's residence to show his thanks, he was introduced to Diao Chan whom Yun introduced to Lu Bu as his own daughter. Chan made her showing, and within the night, Lu Bu was stricken by the girl. This was what Wang Yun needed and he offered Diao Chan to Lu Bu as a handmaiden. Bu accepted at once with no hesitation at all, yet, as the night was ending it was time for Bu to leave.
Yun and Chan had set the first links of the chain to Lu Bu; the "Chain Plot" was at its beginning.
A few days later, when Lu Bu was away from court, Wang Yun spoke to Dong Zhuo, asking the prime minister to attend a banquet that night. At the banquet, the scene was replayed. This time Chan was introduced as a dancing girl and singer. She plied both these skills upon the prime minister and he too was awestruck by her. Wang Yun offered Chan to Dong Zhuo, who instantly accepted and she was brought to Zhuo's residence that very night.
And so the second link of the chain was set upon Dong Zhuo. Diao Chan controlled the two most powerful men in China. And through her, Wang Yun could cleanse the court of its oppressors.
Lu Bu was furious upon hearing that Dong Zhuo had been given Diao Chan. Wang Yun though used that expertly, and convinced Bu that the Minister had demanded the girl. How could he refuse, Yun asked.
From that day on, Lu Bu could not shake his desire of Chan and she lost no chances to make an attempt to pull him from Dong Zhuo. One day, the two met in the gardens of Dong Zhou's residence. When Lu Bu confronter her, she cried of her dislike of that horrible man (Dong Zhuo) and how she hoped one day to be reunited with Lu Bu. Stating how she would rather kill herself than be separated from Bu a minute more, Chan made as if to jump into the lily pond below the walkway. Bu acted quickly and grabbed her in his arms as she wept. When Bu tried one last time to separate himself from this situation, but Chan clung to him and Lu Bu was finally won...
Dong Zhuo would happen upon Chan in the arms of Bu. Furious, Zhuo chased Lu Bu. Picking up his fleeing warrior's own fallen halberd, Zhuo chased after Bu with it. When it was obvious Zhuo could not catch Bu, he flung the halberd, which Lu Bu easily dodged. Zhuo once again picked it up and ran after Bu, but this time he collided with Li Ru (Li Ju). Li Ru helped Dong Zhuo up, and upon hearing the story from Zhuo saw through Diao Chan and Wang Yun's plan at once. He warned Zhuo that the girl would destroy them all and to simply give her to Bu.
When Dong Zhuo confronted Chan, she weaved her story. She told how Bu had happened upon her. So scared she said she was, that she could not flee and was stuck there until Zhuo came to rescue her. Dong Zhuo offered still to send her to Lu Bu, at which point Chan reacted. Chan, grabbing a dagger that was hanging upon the wall, put the blade to herself and promised to use it if Zhuo gave her away to Bu, stating that she would rather die than be given to that "slave". Dong Zhuo was firmly hers now. He agreed that they should journey to the new imperial city of Melwa to help Chan escape Bu.
When Li Ru arrived at Zhuo's residence the next day, he was appalled to find that his lord had rejected the idea. He is said to have murmured upon leaving, "We are dead men, slain by the hand of this girl." (RTK, translation by Brewett-Taylor, pg. 82) At once Zhuo and Chan joined the procession to Melwa. Seeing Lu Bu in the crowd alongside the procession, she assumed a look of deep sadness.
Lu Bu was lost to Zhuo now. He went to Wang Yun's residence, where Yun listened to the story. The final act was to begin.
Yun made sure to make Lu Bu even further enraged. When Bu tried to remind himself of the paternal relationship he shared with Dong Zhuo, Wang Yun asked where that relationship was when Zhuo threw the halberd at Bu. Lu Bu finally agreed, and had now become one of the plotters against Dong Zhuo. Zhuo had lost his one great protector.
A few days later, Zhuo's officer Li Si arrived at Melwa as part of the plot. He informed Dong Zhuo that the emperor was going to abdicate in favor of Zhuo and that they must return to Changan (Chang An) to accept the throne. When Zhuo reached the imperial palace, he was surrounded by troops on all sides, these troops being led by Wang Yun. Li Su went to join Yun and Dong Zhuo realized he was at the door to death. Falling to his knees, Zhuo called for his son, for Lu Bu...
Lu Bu did come, striding through the soldiers and holding the very halberd Zhuo had attacked him with earlier. In reply to Dong Zhuo's cries for his aid, Lu Bu was noted as saying, "Here, and with a decree to deal with a rebel." (RTK, translation by Brewett-Taylor, pg. 82) As Bu's second adopted father knelt before him, Zhuo became the second Bu killed.
Diao Chan, at the young age of 16, had succeeded in doing what Cao Cao's (Tsao Tsao) coalition of lords had not been able to do. She had destroyed Dong Zhuo. Her reward was to die with Wang Yun and his family by the hands of followers of Dong Zhuo.
Note :: All names in parentheses () are alternate spellings, or in some cases familiar names that are used very often in the novel.