Imperial Guardian Yang Biao memorialized the Throne, saying,
“The decree issued to me some time ago has never been acted upon. Now Cao Cao is very strong in the east
of Huashang Mountains, and it would be well to associate him in the government that he might support the ruling house.”
the Emperor replied, “There was no need to refer to the matter again. Send a messenger when you will.”
So the decree went forth and a messenger bore it into the East of Huashang. Now when Cao Cao had heard that the court had returned to Capital Luoyang, he called together his advisers to consult.
[e] Duke Wen of Jin （reigned 636-628 BC） was ruler of the western state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn period. He and his successors made Jin a dominant state for nearly 200 years. ……
[e] the Qin Dynasty ended in BC 206. From BC 206 to BC 202, there was actually no emperor in China； and the principal event in this period of anarchy was what we call the Strife between Chu and Han. It was a continuous conflict between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang, the former a native of Wu,
and the latter of Pei. Both of them had been lieutenants under King Huai of Chu. This King, aka Emperor Yi, was a descendant of the old ruling house of the state of Chu, and during
the troubles attending the breakup of the Qin empire, he setup a kingdom on the ruins. Xiang Yu eventually became the leader of Chu army； and he allegedly had King Huai murdered. Liu Bang, now a leader of Han army, mourned King Huai’s death to show his loyal heart.
Xun Yu laid the matter before Cao Cao and the council thus： “Eight hundred years ago, Duke Wen of Jin supported Prince Xiang of the declining Zhou Dynasty, and all the feudal lords backed Duke Wen*. The Founder of the Hans, Liu Bang, won the popular favor by wearing mourning for Emperor Yi of Chu*.
Now Emperor Xian has been a fugitive on the dusty roads.
To take the lead in offering an army
to restore him to honor is to have an unrivaled
opportunity to win universal regard. But you
must act quickly or someone will get in before you.”
the boat was too small to carry everybody,
and those unable to get on board clung to the cable, but Li Yue cut them down, and they fell into the water. They ferried over the Emperor and then sent back the boat for the others. There was a GREat scramble to get on board, and they had to chop off the fingers and hands of those who persisted in clinging to the boat. The lamentation rose to the heavens.
When they mustered on the farther bank, many were missing, only a dozen of the Emperor’s suite were left. Yang Feng found a bullock cart and transported the Emperor and Empress to Dayang. They had no food and at night sought shelter in a poor, tile-roofed house. The cottagers gave them some boiled millet but it was too coarse to be swallowed.
Next day the Emperor conferred titles on those who had protected him. Li Yue was made General Who Conquers the North, and Han Xian was appointed General Who Conquers the East.
the flight continued. Soon two officers of rank came up with the cortege, and they bowed before His Majesty with many tears. They were Imperial Guardian Yang Biao and Minister Han Rong. The Emperor and Empress lifted up their voices and wept with them.
Said Han Rong to his colleague, “the rebels have confidence in my words. You stay as guard of the Emperor, and I will take my life in my hands and try to bring about peace.”
After Han Rong had gone, the Emperor rested for a time in Yang Feng’s camp. But Yang Biao requested the Emperor to head for Anyi and make the capital there. When the train reached the town, they found it containing not a single lofty building, and the court lived in grass huts devoid even of doors. They surrounded these with a fence of thorns as a protection, and within this the Emperor held counsel with his ministers. The soldiers camped round the fence.
Now Li Yue and his fellow ruffians showed their true colors. They wielded the powers of the Emperor as they wished, and officials who offended them were beaten or abused even in the presence of the Emperor. They purposely provided thick wine and coarse food for the Emperor’s consumption. He struggled to swallow what they sent. Li Yue and Han Xian joined in recommending to the Throne the names of convicts, common soldiers, sorcerers, leeches, and such people who thus obtained official ranks.
There were more than two hundred of such people.
As seals could not be engraved,
pieces of metal were hammered into some sort of a shape.
Court affairs had never degraded to such a low point.
When the rebel generals showed signs of pursuit,
Yang Feng and Dong Cheng had to play a double-edged sword. They sent to offer to discuss terms of peace with Li Jue and Guo Si； at the same time they sent a secret edict to enlist the help from the leaders of the White Wave rebels——Han Xian, Li Yue, and Hu Cai. The White Wave was a branch of the Yellow Scarves, and Li Yue was actually a brigand and had inspired rebels throughout the country. But the need for help was so desperate.
these three, being promised pardon for their faults and crimes and a grant of official rank, naturally responded to the call, and thus the loyal side was strengthened so that Hongnong was recaptured. But meanwhile Li Jue and Guo Si laid waste whatever place they reached, slaying the aged and weakly, forcing the strong to join their ranks. When going into a fight they forced these people-soldiers to the front, and they called them the “Dare-to-Die” soldiers.
Li Jue and Guo Si’s force was overwhelming. When Li Yue, the White Wave leader, approached with his army, Guo Si bade his soldiers scatter clothing and valuables along the road. The late robbers could not resist the temptation, so a scramble began. Then Guo Si’s soldiers fell upon the disordered ranks and did much damage. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng had to take the Emperor away to the north.
the enemy came very near, and the Emperor left his carriage and went on foot. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng escorted him to the bank of the Yellow River. Li Yue sought a boat to ferry him to the other side. The weather was very cold and the Emperor and Empress cuddled up close to each other shivering. They reached the river but the banks were too high, and they could not get down into the boat. So Yang Feng proposed to fasten together the horses’ bridles and lower down the Emperor slung by the waist. However, the Empress’ brother, Fu De, found some rolls of white silk from dead soldiers, and they rolled up the two imperial personages in the silk, and thus they lowered them down near the boat. Then Li Yue took up his position in the prow leaning on his sword. Fu De carried the Empress on his back into the boat.
Li Jue and Guo Si pursued.
Li Yue said, “the danger is grave. I pray Your Majesty mount a horse and go in advance.”
the Emperor replied, “I cannot bear to abandon my officers.”
they wept and struggled on as best they could.
The White Wave leader Hu Cai was killed in one attack.
So the strife of the rival factions ended at last,
and Zhang Ji memorialized asking the Emperor to go to Hongnong near Luoyang.
the Emperor was delighted, saying, “I have longed to go back to the east.”
Zhang Ji was rewarded with the title of Commander of the Flying Cavalry and was highly honored. Zhang Ji saw to it that the Emperor and the court had good supplies of necessaries. Guo Si set free all his captive officers, and Li Jue prepared transport for the court to move to the east. Li Jue told off companies of his Royal Guard to escort the cavalcade.
the proGREss had been without incident as far as Xinfeng. Near Baling Bridge the west wind of autumn came on to blow with great violence, but soon above the howling of the gale was heard the trampling of a large body of force. They stopped at a bridge and barred the way.
“Who comes？” cried a voice.
“the Imperial Chariot is passing, and who dares stop it？” said Yang Qi, riding forward.
Two leaders of the barring party advanced to Yang Qi, saying, “General Guo Si has ordered us to guard the bridge and stop all spies. You say the Emperor is here： We must see him, and then we will let you pass.”
So the pearl curtain was raised and the Emperor said, “I, the Emperor, am here. Why do you not retire to let me pass, gentlemen？”
they all shouted, “Wan shui！ Long Life！ Long Life！” and fell away to allow the cortege through.
But when they reported what they had done, Guo Si was very angry, saying, “I meant to outwit Zhang Ji, seize the Emperor, and hold him in Meiwo. Why have you let him get away？”
He put the two officers to death, set out to pursue the cavalcade, and overtook it just at the county of Huaying. The noise of a GREat shouting arose behind the travelers, and a loud voice commanded, “Stop the train！”
the Emperor burst into tears.
“Out of the wolf’s den into the tiger’s mouth！” said he.
No one knew what to do； they were all too frightened.
But when the rebel army was just upon them, they
heard the beating of drums and from behind some
hills came into the open a cohort of one thousand soldiers preceded by a
GREat flag bearing the name Han General Yang Feng.
Li Jue sent one of his officers, General Wang Chan of the Tiger Army, to arrest Huangfu Li； but Wang Chan had a sense of right and esteemed Huangfu Li as an honorable man. Instead of carrying out the orders, Wang Chan returned to say Huangfu Li could not be found.
Jia Xu tried to work on the feelings of the barbarian tribes. He said to them, “The Son of Heaven knows you are loyal to him and have bravely fought and suffered. He has issued a secret command for you to go home, and then he will reward you.”
the tribesmen had a grievance against Li Jue for not paying them, so they listened readily to the insidious persuasions of Jia Xu and deserted.
then Jia Xu advised the Emperor, “Li Jue is covetous in nature. He is deserted and enfeebled. A high office should be granted to him to lead him astray.”
So the Emperor officially appointed Li Jue Regent Marshal. This delighted him GREatly, and he ascribed his promotion to the potency of his wise witches’ prayers and incantations. He rewarded those people most liberally.
But his army was forgotten. Wherefore his commander, Yang Feng, was angry.
Yang Feng said to General Song Guo, “We have taken all the risks and exposed ourselves to stones and arrows in his service, yet instead of giving us any reward he ascribes all the credit to those witches of his.”
“Let us put him out of the way and rescue the Emperor,” said Song Guo.
“You explode a bomb within as signal, and I will attack from outside.”
So the two aGREed to act together that very night in the second watch. But they had been overheard, and the eavesdropper told Li Jue. Song Guo was seized and put to death. That night Yang Feng waited outside for the signal and while waiting, out came Li Jue himself. Then a melee began, which lasted till the fourth watch. But Yang Feng got away and fled to Xian.
But from this time Li Jue’s army began to fall away, and he felt more than ever the losses caused by Guo Si’s frequent attacks. Then came news that Zhang Ji, at the head of a large army, was coming down from Shanxi to make peace between the two factions.
Zhang Ji vowed he would attack the one who was recalcitrant.
Li Jue tried to gain favor by hastening to send to
tell Zhang Ji he was ready to make peace.
So did Guo Si.
then a nephew of Li Jue, Li Xian, suddenly surrounded the Palace,
put the Emperor and Empress in two carriages,
and assigned Jia Xu and Zuo Ling to carry them off. The Palace attendants were made to follow on foot.
As they went out of the rear gate, they met Guo Si’s army who began to shoot at the cavalcade with arrows.
They killed many attendants before Li Jue’s army came up and forced them to retire.
the carriages were got out of the Palace and eventually reached Li Jue’s camp, while Guo Si’s soldiers plundered the Palace and carried off all the women left there to their camp. Then the Palace was set on fire.
As soon as Guo Si heard of the whereabouts of the Emperor, he came over to attack the camp of Li Jue. The Emperor between these two opposing factions was GREatly alarmed. Indeed：
[hip, hip, hip] Slowly the Hans had declined but renewed their vigor with Liu Xiu, Twelve were the rulers before him, followed him also twelve others. Foolish were two of the latest, dangers surrounded the altars,
These were degenerate days, with authority given to eunuchs. Then did He Jin the simple, the inept, who commanded the army, Warriors call to the capital, wishing to drive out the vermin；Though they drove out the leopards,
tigers and wolves quickly entered. All kinds of evil were wrought by a low class creature from Xizhou. Wang Yun, honest of heart, beguiled this wretch with a woman, Much desired of his henchman, thus sowing seeds of dissension.
Strife resulted, and peace no longer dwelt in the empire. No one suspected that Li Jue and Guo Si would continue the evil, Much to the sorrow of the Middle Kingdom；
yet they stove for a trifle. Famine stalked in the Palace, grief for the clashing of weapons；Why did the warriors strive？ Why was the land thus partitioned？
they had turned aside from the way appointed of Heaven. Kings must ponder these things；
heavy the burden lies on them, Chiefest in all the realm theirs is no common appointment,
Should the King falter or fail, calamities fall on the multitude people,
The empire is drenched with their blood, grisly ruin surrounds them. Steeped in sorrow and sad, read you the ancient records；Long is the tale of years；
the tale of sorrow is longer.
Wherefore one who would rule,
chiefly must exercise forethought.
This and a keen-edged blade,
these must suffice to maintain one.
Liu Bei bade Guan Yu check him. Next day Lu Bu came to take leave of his host.
“You, O Lord, kindly received me, but I fear your brothers and I cannot aGREe. So I will seek some other asylum.”
“General, if you go, the blame is mine. My rude brother has offended and must eventually apologize. In the meantime what think you of a temporary sojourn at the town where I was encamped for some time, Xiaopei？ The place is small and mean, but it is near, and I will see to it that you are supplied with all you need.”
Lu Bu thanked him and accepted this offer. He led his troops there and took up residence. After he had gone, Liu Bei buried his annoyance, and Zhang Fei did not again refer to the matter.
That Cao Cao had subdued the east of the Huashang Mountains has been stated before. He memorialized the Throne and was rewarded with the title of General Who Exhibits Firm Virtue and Lord of Feiting. At this time the rebellious Li Jue was commanding the court, and he had made himself Regent Marshal, and his colleague Guo Si styled himself Grand Commander. Their conduct was abominable but no one dared to criticize them.
Imperial Guardian Yang Biao and Minister Zhu Jun privately talked with Emperor Xian and said, “Cao Cao has two hundred thousand troops and many capable advisers and leaders. It would be well for the empire if he would lend his support to the imperial family and help to rid the government of this evil party.”
His Majesty wept, “I am weary of the insults and contempt of these wretches and should be very glad to have them removed.”
“I have thought of a plan to estrange Li Jue and Guo Si and so make them destroy each other. Then Cao Cao could come and cleanse the court,” said Yang Biao.
“How will you manage it？” asked the Emperor.
“Guo Si’s wife, Lady Qiong, is very jealous, and we can take advantage of her weakness to bring about a quarrel.”
So Yang Biao received instruction to act, with a secret edict to support him. Yang Biao’s wife, Lady Kai, made an excuse to visit Lady Qiong at her palace and, in the course of conversation, said “There is talk of secret liaison between the General, your husband, and the wife of Minister Li Jue. It is a GREat secret, but if Minister Li Jue knew it, he might try to harm your husband. I think you ought to have very little to do with that family.”
Lady Qiong was surprised but said, “I have wondered why he has been sleeping away from home lately, but I did not think there was anything shameful connected with it. I should never have known if you had not spoken. I must put a stop to it.”
By and by, when Lady Kai took her leave,
Lady Qiong thanked her warmly for the information she had given.
Some days passed, and Guo Si was going over to
the dwelling of Li Jue to a dinner.
Said Lu Bu, “After Wang Yun and I plotted to slay Dong Zhuo and my misfortune in the Li Jue and Guo Si’s sedition, I drifted about from one place to another, and none of the nobles east of the Huashang Mountains seemed willing to receive me. When Cao Cao with wicked ambition invaded this region and you, Sir, came to its rescue, I aided you by attacking Yanzhou and thus diverting a portion of his force. I did not think then that I should be the victim of a vile plot and lose my leaders and my soldiers. But now if you will, I offer myself to you that we may together accomplish GREat designs.”
Liu Bei replied, “When the late Tao Qian died, there was no one to administer Xuzhou, and so I assumed that task for a time. Now since you are here, General, it is most suitable that I step down in your favor.”
Whereupon Liu Bei handed the insignia and the seal of authority to Lu Bu. Lu Bu was on the point of accepting them, when he saw Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, who stood behind the Imperial Protector, glaring at him with angry eyes.
So Lu Bu put on a smile and said, “I may be something of a fighting man, but I could not rule a GREat region like this.”
Liu Bei repeated his offer. But Chen Gong said, “the strong guest does not oppress his host. You need not fear, Lord Liu Bei.”
then Liu Bei desisted. Banquets were held and dwelling places prepared for the guest and his retinue.
As soon as convenient, Lu Bu returned the feast. Liu Bei went with his two brothers. Half through the banquet Lu Bu requested Liu Bei to retire to one of the inner private rooms, whither Guan Yu and Zhang Fei followed him. There Lu Bu bade his wife and daughter bow as to their benefactor. Here also Liu Bei showed excessive modesty.
Lu Bu said, “Good younger brother, you need not be so very modest.”
Zhang Fei heard what Lu Bu said, and his eyes glared, crying, “What sort of a man are you that dares call our brother ‘younger brother’？ He is one of the ruling family——a jade leaf on a golden branch. Come out, and I will fight you three hundred bouts for the insult.”
Liu Bei hastily checked the impulsive one, and Guan Yu persuaded him to go away. Then Liu Bei apologized, saying, “My poor brother talks wildly after he has been drinking. I hope you will not blame him.”
Lu Bu nodded, but said nothing. Soon after the guests departed.
But as the host escorted Liu Bei to his carriage,
he saw Zhang Fei galloping up armed as for a fray.
“Lu Bu, you and I will fight that duel of three hundred bouts！
” shouted Zhang Fei.
“Whom do I fear？” said Lu Bu.
So he threw caution to the winds and went out of the city. He met his foes and he began to revile them. The redoubtable Xu Chu went to fight with him, but after twenty bouts neither combatant was any the worse.
“He is not the sort that one man can overcome,” said Cao Cao.
And he sent Dian Wei to attack Lu Bu from another direction. Lu Bu stood the double onslaught. Soon after the flank commanders joined in——Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan attacking the left； Li Dian and Yue Jing surrounding the right. Lu Bu had six opponents. These proved really too many for him so he turned his horse and rode back to the city.
But when the members of the Tian family saw him coming back beaten, they raised the drawbridge.
Lu Bu shouted, “Open the gates！ Let me in！”
But the Tians said, “We have gone over to Cao Cao！”
This was hard to hear and the beaten man abused them roundly before he left. Chen Gong got away through the east gate taking with him the general’s family.
Thus Puyang came into Cao Cao’s hands, and for their present services the Tian family were pardoned their previous fault.
However, Liu Ye said, “Lu Bu is a savage beast. If let alive, he will be a GREat danger. Hunt him down！”
Liu Ye was ordered to keep Puyang. Wherefore Cao Cao determined to follow Lu Bu to Dingtao whither he had gone for refuge.
Lu Bu, Zhang Miao, and Zhang Chao were assembled in the city. Gao Shun and other generals were out foraging. Cao Cao army arrived but did not attack for many days, and presently he withdrew fifteen miles and made a stockade. It was the time of harvest, and he set his soldiers to cut the wheat for food.
The spies reported this to Lu Bu who came over to see.
But when he saw that Cao Cao’s stockade lay near a thick wood,
he feared an ambush and retired.
Cao Cao heard that Lu Bu had come and gone and guessed the reason.
Dian Wei rode out in answer to the challenge, and some thirty bouts were fought.
Then Dian Wei turned and fled toward his own side. The bravo followed and came quite close. But a flight of arrows drove him away.
Cao Cao hastily drew off his men for one and a half miles and then secretly sent a certain number to dig a pitfall and sent troops armed with hooks to lie in ambush.
the following day Dian Wei was sent out with one hundred horse. His adversary nothing loath came to meet Dian Wei.
“Why does the defeated leader venture forth again？” cried he laughing.
the swashbuckler spurred forward to join battle, but Dian Wei, after a faint show of fighting, turned his horse and rode away. His adversary intent upon capture, took no care, and he and his horse all blundered into the pitfall. The hookmen took him captive, bound him, and carried him before Cao Cao.
As soon as he saw the prisoner, Cao Cao advanced from his tent, sent away the soldiers, and with his own hands loosened the leader’s bonds. Then he brought out clothing and dressed him, bade him be seated and asked who he was and whence he came.
“I am named Xu Chu. I am from Qiao. When the rebellion broke out, I and my relations of some hundreds built a stronghold within a rampart for protection. One day the robbers came, but I had stones ready for them. I told my relatives to keep on bringing them up to me and I threw them, hitting somebody every time I threw. This drove off the robbers. Another day they came and we were short of grain. So I aGREed with them to an exchange of plow oxen against grain. They delivered the grain and were driving away the oxen when the beasts took fright and tore off to their pens. I seized two of oxen by the tail,
one with each hand,
and hauled them backwards a hundred or so paces.
The robbers were so amazed that they thought no more about oxen but went their way.
So they never troubled us again.”