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Overview

Zhenji lived in the period of Chinese history where the land, in the absence of a competent central government, splintered under various territorial warlords and descended into civil war. This period was romanticised in the partially historical, partially mythical, and somewhat legendary Romance of the Three Kingdoms historical epic written by Luo Guanzhong during the fourteenth century. Zhenji's first appearance in the story comes when warlord Cao Cao besieged and captured the city of Ye. At the time, she was the wife of Yuan Xi, the older brother of Yuan Shang who lost against Cao Cao in the battle for Ye. Cao Cao's second son, Cao Pi, found Zhenji in the Yuan family residence, and was so struck by her beauty that he took her as his wife shortly thereafter. The marriage resulted in two children. The first, Cao Rui, eventually became the second emperor of the Wei state, while the second was only referred to as "Princess Dongxiang" (literally "Princess of the East District" in Chinese).

After Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate in his favor in 220 AD, he himself became emperor and established the Wei state. It is said that Zhenji became so jealous of his growing harem that she was forced to commit suicide in 221 AD when her discontent was reported.

Despite never been made empress in her lifetime, her son posthumously honored her as "Empress Wenzhao", literally meaning the "cultured and diligent empress".

In Video Games

Zhenji's illustration in Dynasty Warriors 8
Zhenji's illustration in Dynasty Warriors 8

Zhenji makes her playable debut in Dynasty Warriors 3. She is depicted as a bewitching beauty and dignified femme fatale who yearns for personal satisfaction on the battlefield. She is initially affiliated with Yuan Shao’s forces until she leaves to serve under the banner of Wei. She participates in many of the Kingdom of Wei’s battles and can appear as late as their final campaigns. With the introduction of Cao Pi to the series, she is often seen surrendering upon her defeat at the Battle of Guandu and agrees to join Cao Pi, faithfully following him on the battlefield during his future campaigns.

The Dynasty Warriors series portrays her marriage to Cao Pi as a perfect match, a stark contrast to her quasi-historical counterpart. The fit suggests that her character is a combination of the historical figure and Guo Nuwang, one of Cao Pi's favourite concubines. In the series, she often shares a rivalry with other women on the battlefield and grows angry if her husband is insulted. Dynasty Warriors 7 particularly focuses on her rivalry with Sun Quan’s love interest, Lianshi.

Since her appearances in Dynasty Warriors 3 through Dynasty Warriors 5, Zhenji used a flute as her default weapon. However, in Dynasty Warriors 6, her weapon was replaced with a bladed whip. She regained her flute in Dynasty Warriors 7 and Dynasty Warriors 8, only to be given the bladed whip again in Dynasty Warriors 9.

Before the release of Dynasty Warriors Next, the English editions of the series separated the Chinese characters of her name and referred to her as "Zhen Ji" (literally means "Concubine Zhen" in Chinese). Though her name will now be written Zhenji in future games.

Zhenji also makes an appearance in the Dynasty Warriors Empires and Xtreme Legends spinoffs as well as the Warriors Orochi series. In the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, she is known as Zhen Shi. She usually appears after Cao Cao conquers Ye and is married to Cao Pi. Her playable persona in the series is geared more towards to domestic affairs.

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