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After a failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo, Cao Cao was forced to go into exile to Zhongmou county, where he was captured by the local officials. The county magistrate Chen Gong secretly released Cao, gave up his post, and ran away with Cao Cao. Later they encounter Lü Boshe, who treats them with the utmost hospitality. To Chen's deep dismay, Cao suspects that Lü might want to conspire against him and thus kills Lü. Thus Chen eventually decides to leave Cao Cao. The opera is adopted from a story in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.