Zhen Ji is a figure that appears in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The exact year she was born isn't known, but the date was some time after 180 A.D. She was from a wealthy family, as her father was part of the government. As a child, Zhen Ji was said to be intelligent beyond her years, as she did a lot of reading and writing, and was also said to be involved in famine relief efforts during hard times in the late Han Dynasty. As a result, she was famous among the commoners for her deeds as well as her beauty. Her real name is Zhen Luo. "Ji" is a Chinese honorific equivalent to "Lady."
Years later, after Yuan Shao had taken control of Zhen's home province, he took advantage of her stature and popularity by marrying her to his second son, Yuan Xi. However, Zhen and her husband were rarely together as Xi went off to govern You Province for his father while Zhen remained in Yi Province to take care of her mother-in-law.
Zhen Ji's tenure as a part of the Yuan family was short-lived. After Yuan Shao's defeat at the hands of Cao Cao, the Yuans became divided and a power struggle ensued. Yuan Shao's eldest and youngest sons, Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang fought for control as Cao Cao played them against one another, eventually taking all of the Yuans' assets. In the midst of all of this, Zhen was spared. In around 204-205, Cao Pi, son of Cao Cao, arrived to take away Zhen Ji and her mother-in-law when he was struck by Zhen's beauty. He decided then and there to take her as his wife.
In 205, Zhen Ji gave birth to Cao Rui, the eventual heir of Wei. However, Rui was also a source of tension; there were rumors that Rui was the son of Zhen Ji's first husband, Yuan Xi, who at the time that the rumors started was still alive. This rumor was made worse due to the fact that Rui was born only eight months after Cao Pi's marriage to Zhen. The tension eventually became so insurmountable that Zhen fell out of her husband's favor.
Cao Pi took the imperial throne in for himself in 220, effectively ending the Han Dynasty. Zhen Ji, however, was not invited to see her husband assume power, and she pouted about it. When her discontent was reported to Cao Pi, Pi sent his wife a message telling her to commit suicide. Upon receiving the message, she followed through and brought an end to her own life.
In addition to the rumors regarding Zhen and Yuan Xi, there was additional speculation that she had an affair with Cao Zhi, Cao Pi's younger brother, and even an affair with Cao Cao, her father-in-law. However, there was never any proof that these allegations were more than mere rumors.
In Video Games
Zhen Ji is most notable as a playable character in the Dynasty Warriors series, beginning in Dynasty Warriors 3. In this series, she is portrayed as a woman well aware of her high social status and is arrogant toward others. Despite this, she is loyal to Wei and supports her father-in-law, Cao Cao. In addition, the animosity between Zhen and Cao Pi is non-existent; their marriage is depicted as an ideal match.
In her appearances from Dynasty Warriors 3 through Dynasty Warriors 5, Zhen uses a flute as her weapon. However, in Dynasty Warriors 6, her weapon was replaced with a bladed whip and she shares her weapon style and move set with Diao Chan. In Dynasty Warriors 7, she regains the use of a flute as her EX weapon. She is also a character in the Warriors Orochi series as well as the Empires and Xtreme Legends spinoffs of Dynasty Warriors. She also serves as the cover character for the first PSP installment of Dynasty Warriors.
Outside of the Dynasty Warriors series, Zhen Ji has also made minor appearances in other games such as titles in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series.