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    Liu Bei
Liu Bei is an imperial uncle, meaning he's a relative of the Emperor's dynasty. Alas for him, no one but his two sworn brothers Zhang Fei and Guan Yu are willing to listen to him. During the course of the series, Liu Bei rises to become a prominent warlord through glorious interventions in battle, making him look like a virtuous savior of China and the Imperial Han. In truth, Liu Bei is very honorable for a warlord but his patience wears thin after being the victim of successive ploys and his methods become darker.
  • 100% Adoration Rating: Pretty much his strongest asset as a would-be contender for hegemony.
  • A Father to His Men: ... but not much to his own child, whom he considers of lesser importance than his sworn brothers and Huo, as shown by the infamous Adou-chucking.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Are you satisfied... with dying like this?" to both Zhang Liao and Liaoyuan Huo
  • Big Damn Heroes: He essentially made a career out of just being this for other warlords:
    • At Hulao Pass, he teamed up with his brothers to stop Lu Bu from completely curbstomping and annihilating the Guandong warlords whom Yuan Fang tricked (in the following order) into stationing their troops in an unfavorable terrain, using up their rations, sacrificing their best generals and being left behind for Lu Bu's pickingnote . This incident earned him some land, a sizable army and an unofficial acknowledgement of his title as Imperial Unclenote .
    • He saved Gongsun Zan from under Yuan Shao's nose and threatened the lives of Yan Liang and Wen Chou, forcing Yuan Shao himself to address him as Imperial Uncle, then he went on with his brothers to try and save "Zhao Yun", who Gongsun Zan hadn't even been aware of.
    • He was the first warlord to answer Xuzhou's call for help when Cao Cao attacked and massacred their civilians. Moreover, behind his back his brother Zhang Fei proposed a deal with Xuzhou's official Mi Zhu to forge a will for Xuzhou's still-living administrator Tao Qian which would leave the office and the land to Liu Bei, and to back Liu Bei's claim should Tao Qian drop dead in battle. When Tao Qian didnote , Liu Bei became the next governor of one of the biggest cities in the Middle Land.
    • Of course, all of this set up his path to the welcoming arms of the powerful (though declining) warlord Liu Biao and Jingzhou civilians as the last remaining Loyalist after Yuan Shao's defeat at Guandunote .
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Lu Bu realized this only too late at his execution at White Gate Tower, when he realized that Liu Bei must have persuaded Cao Cao to execute him instead of sparing his life as Cao Cao must have been considering.
    • Cai Mao was already thinking this about Liu Bei after his arrival in Jingzhou, but the River Tan incident and the subsequent appointment of Liu Bei to command Jingzhou's main army cemented it.
  • Blue Blood: Claims to be an "Imperial Uncle" (relative to the Emperor). With no army and land to his name, other warlords was content to dismiss him at first, until he pulled said epic Big Damn Heroes stunt with his brothers at Hulao Gate and Liaoyuan Huo tricked Emperor Xian into issuing an edict formalizing the claim by pretending to be one of Lu Bu's men. Liu Bei's subsequent accomplishments decisively legitimized his heritage in everyone's eyes and put him on equal footing with prominent Liu clansmen like Liu Biao.
  • Break Them by Talking: At the White Gate Tower, to Zhang Liao. Later turned around and used as an emotional catharsis for Liaoyuan Huo, furthering the parallels between him and Zhang Liao.
  • Butt-Monkey: As in the novel and history, he keeps losing to Cao Cao and Lu Bu over and over again. But each time he loses, his prestige increases and his reputation as a loyal Han follower and a righteous man shoots up. However, being constantly on the Trauma Conga Line results in his gradual development into a much more cynical, calculating man, and the usurpation of Xu province by Lu Bu cemented that change.
  • Chekhov's Skill: At the very beginning, many are quick to dismiss Liu Bei because he's been a shoemaker all his life. During the campaign of Huarong during which his army harasses the remnants of Cao Cao's army in a region suffering from a once-in-a-decade snow and rain period, Liu Bei makes a Boring, but Practical contribution to his army's victories by designing and furnishing his men with waterproof boots which multiplies their survivability manifold.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Pretty much how he delivers said Armor-Piercing Question to Zhang Liao and Liaoyuan Huo.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Liu Bei talked Zhang Liao into surrendering instead of facing execution so that a grateful Cao Cao would let Liu Bei near the Emperor. During Zhao Yun's face-off against Cao Cao's generals at Changban, that same Zhang Liao would be the only warrior who could contend with Liaoyuan Huo and nearly killed him and Adou before being intercepted and knocked off of the bridge by Zhang Fei.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Debuts by pretending to be a henchman of Dong Zhuo who robs people of their fortunes so that they would hate Dong Zhuo, and in return welcome the anti-Dong coalition as their saviors — which so touched the coalition soldiers that they forgot their own plan to loot the city.
  • Determinator
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: When he persuades Zhang Liao to surrender to Cao Cao and thus saved his life.
  • Good Is Dumb: He gets over it after Lu Bu took Xuzhou from him.
  • Good is Not Nice: As he was shaping up to be a manipulative politician on par with Cao Cao, he "returned the favor" from the usurpation of Xuzhou by convincing Cao Cao to execute Lu Bu. Then he was an active participant in Jingzhou's succession crisis between the Cai family and Liu Qi, where he staged the River Tan incident, including lying about his physical condition to get Cai Mao in trouble, possibly even executed, while he could — by backing Liu Qi — end up in command of Liu Biao's main army.
  • The Empath: Very good at discerning the personality, the wants and desires of people he comes across.
  • Freudian Trio: The Id.
  • Honor Before Reason: Then again, he has a good excuse for putting his honor first: next to the backing of his sworn brothers who are legendary fighters (which commands at least some respects from other warlords) he knows that his reputation is about the only thing he has going for him if he ever want to gain an army and a land of his own, so most of his decisions are based on how to polish it and not sacrifice it.
  • Magnetic Hero: His charisma points are off the charts, topping even Cao Cao.
  • Nice Guy: Almost to a fault.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Basically his life story.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: People think he's a patriotic idiot, but Cao Cao (formerly viewed as such a 'patriotic idiot') knows better: they're both would-be hegemons who seek power with which to suppress corrupt vassals against Imperial Han, who 'just so happen' to consider the other to be one such corrupt vassal.
  • Rags to Royalty: Liu Bei began as a lowly shoemaker with a tenuous blood connection to the Imperial line. However, with the help of his sworn brothers and no small amount of politicking, he manages to be officially recognized by the court as an Imperial Uncle and become a prominent warlord in his own right.
  • Self-Made Man: Go from nameless, downtrodden lackey in Yuan Shao's ranks to being recognized as an Imperial relative with unrivaled prestige — soldiers and civilians flock to him in herds, warlords trip over themselves trying to get him on their sides (yes, even Yuan Shao) — and the flag bearer of anti-Cao faction within and out of the court.
  • Slave to PR: Is frequently accused of this by more overtly practical subordinates, though eventually he becomes more calculating with each PR acts.
  • Start of Darkness: After the loss of Xiapi to Lu Bu, which was engineered by Zhang Fei to trigger this very reaction from Liu Bei, whom he felt to have a bad case of Good Is Dumb:
    Liu Bei: Lu Bu took Xiapi from Xiaopei... why can't I? Fake a truce, then pay him back when we can!
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist No Longer
  • Worthy Opponent: Cao Cao regards him as this since the first time they met in Xuzhou, even when back then Liu Bei was only a minor warlord and Cao Cao already got a strong start after obtaining the service of the remnant Yellow Turban troops in Qingzhou and two Geniuses.

    Guan Yu
Guan Yu is the first of Liu Bei's sworn brothers. Guan Yu is a supreme warrior, easily on par with Lu Bu. He is also honorable to a fault, usually acting as the voice of conscience for the three brothers.
  • Awesomeness Is a Force: How he drove Sun Ce away and his troops from Cao Cao when the former led a surprise strike against Cao Cao's troops near Shouchunnote .
  • Blade on a Stick: His weapon is the iconic Green Dragon Spear, a guandao of epic size.
  • Big Damn Heroes: He and Zhang Fei once saved Huo when Wen Chou and Yan Liang ganged up on the boy, and in the first Xuzhou campaign he saved Zhang Liao's life even though they were technically still enemies, simply because he was moved by Zhang Liao's A Father to His Men attitude towards his soldiers... and he thought that Zhang Liao deserved better than Lu Bu.
  • Cool Horse: The Red Hare (like you wouldn't know). He even talked it over to his side. And when he first mounted it, they both radiated awesomeness (really). A throwaway line in chapter 373 reveals that by the time of the Jing succession conflict Red Hare had died of old age but had had offspring.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Of Lu Bu-level curbstomping; whenever he fights someone not named Lu Bu, expect his opponent to turn Half the Man He Used to Be in one page.
  • Freudian Trio: The Ego.
  • Genius Bruiser: Earlier on in the story at least, though it's almost-too-quickly dropped for a more conventional depiction. For example, the ploy to ensure that Liu Bei got the credit for defeating Lu Bu was all Guan Yu's idea!
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: At several points, including one panel from him first getting atop Red Hare.
  • Honor Before Reason: He outright lets go an exhausted, wounded Lu Bu near the end of the Xiapi campaign because he's too busy shedding Manly Tears at Red Hare's Undying Loyalty to Lu Bu.
    Guan Yu: You are a hero, with true loyalty and honor. My only wish is to be able to fight alongside you. Live. Take your master and go.
    • For this, Zhang Fei says, "Second brother is always like that - he never takes advantage of a person. Too bad history will remember his ignorance one day."
  • Made of Iron: Enough so that when even Xiahou Yuan is knocked prone by a sudden surprise attack by Zhang Liao, Guan Yu is still standing and ready enough to mockingly asking him, "Why have you fallen, you descendant of a famous general?"note ... and then slug Zhang Liao good for the insult of damaging the shirt that Liu Bei gave him.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Even if it's the shortest out of almost any depiction of him that isn't The Lost Bladesman.
  • Nice Guy
  • One-Man Army: On the same level with Lu Bu.
  • The Paladin
  • Spanner in the Works: In Guandu arc, he sides with Cao Cao in the Battle of Baima. When Liu Bei sees him leading the Cao troops, he immediately stops his archer team from firing, leaving Guan Yu free space to off Yan Liang.
  • Super Strength: Can't engage in good ol' fisticuffs with Lu Bu without this! Before that, Zhang Liao found out the hard way when he tried jumping Guan Yu and got sent flying with a punch to the face.

    Zhang Fei
Zhang Fei is the second of Liu Bei's sworn brothers. Wearing peculiar face paint, Zhang Fei is publicly known as an alcoholic brute of great strength. However, this is merely a persona and Zhang Fei is also a renowned artist and a cunning strategist.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the novel (and historical anecdotes), Zhang Fei is wild-eyed with a big head, unruly beard and jowls, usually portrayed as either pot-bellied and/or thickly muscled. This version is clean-shaven with fine features and an athletic build.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Deliberately employed, and possibly the most radical example in the story. The historical Zhang Fei was reputed to be brutal and unpredictable, fiercely loyal and courageous but otherwise vicious. The classic novel goes much the same direction, albeit with some more noble traits, emphasizing his loyalty and brotherhood. Ravages of Time keeps many of his actions and decisions in line with his usual portrayal, but instead posits that his savagery and ruthlessness are coldly calculated for pragmatic reasons, rather than his poor impulse control.
  • Big Damn Heroes: He and Guan Yu once saved Huo when Wen Chou and Yan Liang ganged up on the boy, even if Huo insists that thanks to Xiao Meng and Zhang Lei he was never actually in danger. Over a decade later, at Changban he appeared just in time to fend off Zhang Liao when Huo was exhausted and disarmed of Cao Cao's sword by Zhang Liao. And of course, Zhang Fei's the one who would singlehandedly hold the line against the entire Cao army at that very bridge.
  • Blade on a Stick: Wields his iconic serpent spear. Most adaptations imagine the blade as wavy like a snake or forked like a snake's tongue, but in this version the shaft ends in two intertwined spikes that jut out in twin prongs.
  • Cultured Warrior: His other identity is a renowned calligrapher landscape artistnote , and the Eight Geniuses' teacher is a fan of his. Who could have known? As an added bonus, although none of those involved realize this, he actually painted a portrait of Sima Yi as a toddler for a marriage proposal over a decade years before the story's beginning, which ended up in the possession of the fiancee, one Shan Wulingnote .
  • Facial Markings: And they look even weirder than Pang Tong's. He's even nicknamed 'Painted-Face Zhang Fei'.
    • Zhang Fei's face paint actually offers a touch of FridgeBrilliance for the modern reader. In Chinese opera, popular stock characters, such as heroes from the Three Kingdoms, typically have universal mask designs for actors to wear so that the audience can immediately identify the character or personality being portrayed. Look for the Zhang Fei opera mask, and you'll notice something familiar...
  • Freudian Trio: The Superego (and quite unlike his more traditional portrayal).
  • Genius Bruiser: The chapter where he and Chen Gong plot against each other confirms this. His infamous alcoholism? He's faking it.
    • At Changban, he narrowed the iconic bridge to only two riders' widthnote , then hid a bunch of spears under a board and covered the whole thing in moss. When his famous taunting of the Cao army was followed by him marching forward as if to confront them even closer, Cao Ren orders the archers to fire... to which Zhang Fei responds by simply kicking up the moss-covered board, turning it into a makeshift shield, before flipping it over all the way to reveal the spears... which he then chucks at Cao Cao's army, impaling multiple soldiers with each from outside of the archers' range. Oh yeah, that other bridge that he "overlooked"? It can't support the weight of all the Cao troops who try to cross the river to outflank him, which was why he'd left it to act as bait. Finally, the whole thing was a setup: the spot at which Zhang Fei made his stand and thus where the Cao army massed is a relatively flat grassland, an open plain and thus ripe for a fire attack by Guan Yu's troops. Unlike the novel version, here they actually damage the Cao army and force its retreat, which Zhang Liao estimates buys Liu Bei a two days' headstart.
  • Geo Effects: Zhang Fei is a master at using terrain to his advantage. Thanks to his secret identity as an artist, Zhang Fei is able to travel incognito and hide his studying of the terrain behind his painting activity.
  • Girlish Pigtails: A rare male example.
  • Handsome All Along: Zhang Fei's unpainted face is yet to be seen as he always covers his face below his eyes with a cloth when he doesn't have all those painted tattoosnote , but from what we can see he does not look half bad.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: It doesn't kill anyone at Changban like the novel version, as Xiahou Jie isn't mentioned here, but the emitted force is still awesome enough to intimidate Cao Cao's frontline soldiers and shake the horses, almost toppling his cavalry, and even Cao Cao's horse bucks wildly at the sound.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Specifically cultivated on his part since he doesn't mind being considered a brute, although it's generally dropped after he's exposed during the first Xuzhou campaign and Guo Jia correctly identifies him as the alter ego of "Mr. Zhang, Peach Garden Artist".
  • One-Man Army: Fights Lu Bu to a standstill twice before finally defeating him — albeit after Lu Bu's already wounded, injured and exhausted, whereas several of Cao Cao's best generals together fail to manage it even oncenote .
  • The Smart Guy
  • Token Evil Teammate: Not nearly as straitlacedly righteous as his brothers, and he comes up with most of the schemes from before Zhuge Liang formally joins. When Liu Bei steadfastly refused to accept the news of his inheritance of Xuzhou, Zhang Fei simply shot him with a drugged arrow, then accepted the inheritance in his name and ran the province for him, all the while keeping Liu Bei hidden away and sedated with spiked soup.
    Zhang Fei: My big brother is a man of integrity. He's just inflexible to the changing times. If it weren't for the dirty business his two brothers had to do... he might still be selling straw sandals.
  • The Worf Effect: Invoked in-universe, as his get-famous-quick plan for the trio is basically "take on Dong Zhuo's best fighters (Hua Xiong and Lu Bu) and try not to lose", this is even lampshaded by Lu Bu himself.
    Lu Bu: "The face-painted man was right...the stronger I am, the more beneficial it is to them..."

    Zhao Yun 

    Xu Shu 
Zhuge Liang's friend and confidante. At Zhuge Liang's request, he arrives in Jingzhou to side with Liu Bei when the latter gets involved in the power struggle between Liu Biao's two sons, Liu Qi and Liu Cong.

  • Beware the Nice Ones
  • Doomed by Canon: His service to Liu Bei turns out to be more short-lived than the novel counterpart when his mother is kidnapped by Sima Yi soon after he scores some points for team Liu Bei by burning up a few troops of Cao Cao. note 
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: He orchestrated the incident at River Tan so that Cai Mao's scheme to get rid of Liu Bei would be attempted in front of Jingzhou's respectable men.

    Liu Shan 
Liu Bei's son, the Ah Dou that was rescued by Zhao Yun during the retreat from Xinye, and who would eventually inherit the Kingdom of Shu.

  • Innocent Prodigy: Somehow knew Zhuge Liang to be a "bad guy" even at his age.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Sun clan people thinks he's stupid and only knows to play around, but he can be quite discerning of people's nature like his father.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Tells Zhuge Liang not to go to war, because that would lead to many people dying. Zhuge Liang concluded that Liu Shan would grow up to be a humane and benevolent ruler.

    Huang Zhong 
A veteran warrior under the command of Huang Zu (Liu Biao's top deputy) who, together with his brother-in-arm and protégé Gan Ning, have been guarding Jingzhou's borders for years yet without making a name for himself. After Liu Biao's death, while Gan Ning defects to the Sun clan, he continues to serve Changsha's administrator Han Xuan. When Liu Bei sets out to conquer the Four Commanderies, he turns to Liu Bei's side with some "persuasion" from Wei Yan.

  • Combat Pragmatist: Gan Ning learns the trick of using arrow in close combat from him. During the fight with Guan Yu, he pretends to lose stamina after shooting with a heavy bow too many times to lure Guan Yu into close range, at which he drops all pretension and continues to fire rapidly.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: He can shoot with lightning speed and terrifying accuracy. The most extreme example comes in chapter 536, where he kills an enemy scout, who was standing on a tower, at night, with a headshot.
  • Old Soldier: At the age of 60-70-ish, he's the only warrior in the series since Lu Bu to make Guan Yu break a sweat during combat.
  • Super Strength: He uses the most powerful type of bow and shoots with the force of a small homing missile. His blade also requires two grown man to carry, yet he can swing it with relative ease.
  • The Archer: And the deadliest one in Ravages bar none.

    Wei Yan 
A warrior who reports to Han Xuan, the administratior of Changsha. Defects to Liu Bei's side when Liu Bei takes over the four commanderies.