This seemed good to Li Jue, so the banquet was prepared.
Zhang Ji and Fan Chou accepted their invitations and went cheerfully.
Toward the latter part of the entertainment a sudden change came over their host Li Jue, and he suddenly asked Fan Chou, “Why have you been intriguing with Han Sui？ You are turning traitor, eh？”
the unhappy guest was taken aback. Before he could frame his words to reply, he saw the assassins rush out with swords and axes. In a moment all was over, and Fan Chou’s head lay beneath the table.
Scared beyond measure, his fellow-guest Zhang Ji groveled on the floor.
“Fan Chou was a traitor,” said the host, raising Zhang Ji by the arm, “and he has his deserts. You are my friend and need not fear.”
Li Jue gave Zhang Ji command of Fan Chou’s army with which Zhang Ji returned to his headquarters garrison in Hongnong.
No one of the leaders among the leaguers dared attempt an attack on the party newly risen from Dong Zhuo’s disaffection, while on the other hand Jia Xu never ceased to urge his masters to exert themselves for the welfare of the people and thus to tempt wise people to join them. And by these means the government began to prosper, and the court to reassert its authority.
However, a new trouble arose in the shape of a resurgence of Yellow Scarves in Qingzhou. They came, under numerous chieftains, in the number of hundreds of thousand and plundered any place they reached.
Minister Zhu Jun said he knew of one who could destroy this sedition, and when asked who was the man he proposed, Zhu Jun said, “You want to destroy this horde of rebels； you will fail unless you get the service of Cao Cao.”
But a terrific thunder storm came on at the time of inhumation, and the ground was flooded. The coffin was rived asunder, and the poor remains knocked out by thunders. A second time they buried the coffin, but a similar thing happened in the night. And yet a third time in another place but the earth rejected the remains. Meanwhile the thunder-fire had entirely consumed them. So it may be said justly that Heaven was exceedingly angry with Dong Zhuo.
So now Li Jue and Guo Si wielded the real power of the scepter, and they were hard upon the people.
They also removed the attendants from the Palace and replaced them by their own creatures,
who maintained a most perfect watch over every movement of the Emperor so that he was GREatly hampered and embarrassed.
All appointments and demotions were made by the two rebels. For the sake of popularity they especially summoned Zhu Jun to court, made him Minister of the Inner Bureau and associated him with the government.
One day came a report that the Governor of Xiliang, Ma Teng, and the Imperial Protector of Bingzhou, Han Sui, with one hundred thousand troops, are rapidly approaching the capital with the intention of attacking the rebels in the name of the Emperor.
Now these leaders from the west had laid careful plans.
Ma Teng and Han Sui had sent trusty friends to the capital to find out who would support them.
They had conspired with three officials——Court Counselors Ma Yu and Chong Shao,
and Imperial Commander Liu Fan——to be their inside allies and plot against the rebels.
These three obtained from the Throne two secret edicts conferring the ranks of Commander Who Conquers the West on Ma Teng and Commander Who Guards the West on Han Sui.
With these powers the two commanders joined forces and began their march.
the four leaders of the party in power——Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji——held a consultation with their generals as to how to meet the attack.
Adviser Jia Xu said, “Since the attackers are coming from a distance, our plan is to fortify and wait till shortage of food shall work for us. In a hundred days their supplies will be consumed, and they must retire. We can pursue and we shall capture them.”
Li Meng and Wang Fang rose and said, “This plan is bad. Give us ten thousand troops, and we will put an end to both of them and offer their heads before your ensign.”
In the last chapter the two arch rebels,
Li Jue and Guo Si, proposed to murder Emperor Xian,
but their followers Zhang Ji and Fan Chou opposed this.
“No. the people will not approve of his death now. Restore him to power, and get the leaguers inside Changan’s control. Remove his supporters, and then we can compass his death. And the empire shall be in our hands.”
So they ceased the attack. The Emperor again spoke from the tower, saying, “Why do you still remain？ You have slain Wang Yun： Now withdraw these soldiers.”
then Li Jue and Guo Si replied, “Your servants desire rank rewards for their good service to your dynasty.”
“And what ranks, Sirs？”
All four wrote their wishes and handed them up to the Emperor who had no choice but to accede to the request, and they were created：
Li Jue was appointed General of the Flying Cavalry, Lord of Chiyang, Commander of Capital District, Court Administrator, and granted Military Insignia.
Guo Si was appointed General of the Rear Army, Lord of Meiyang, Court Administrator, and granted Military Insignia.
Fan Chou was appointed General of the Right Army and Lord of Wanian.
Zhang Ji was appointed General of the Flying Cavalry and Lord of Pingyan.
Li Meng and Wang Fang, for opening the city gates, were appointed Imperial Commanders.
After receiving ranks of nobility, Li Jue and Guo Si thanked the Emperor, and went away to camp at Xunung, the suburb of Changan. The inferior rebel leaders also were gratified with ranks. And once more the capital was free of troops.
Dong Zhuo’s followers, having so far succeeded, did not forget their late leader. They sought his corpse for burial, but only a few fragments were discoverable. Then they had sculptors engrave a statue of fragrant wood in his likeness, laid that out in proper form, and instituted a noble’s sacrifices and prayers.
[e] Peng Yue （BC ？-196） a general of Liu Bang. He and Liu Bang had been close friends in their native Pei, where Liu Bang later held a minor office. Ennobled as King of Liang. ……
Li Jue said, “Lu Bu though brave in battle is no strategist and so not really formidable.
I will lead my troops to hold the mouth of the gorge, and every day I will incite him to attack； and when he comes toward me, General Guo Si can smite his rear,
after the manner of Peng Yue* when he fought against Chu. While thus I am alternating attack and retreat, Generals Fan Chou and Zhang Ji will march off in different directions toward Changan. Such an attack at two points must end both Wang Yun and Lu Bu.”
they set themselves to carry out this scheme. As soon as Lu Bu reached the hills, a force of Li Jue came out to attack him. Lu Bu made an angry dash toward the enemy who retired up the hills, whence they shot arrows and hurled stones like rain. Lu Bu’s troops halted. At this moment the report came that the rear was being attacked and there appeared Guo Si. At once Lu Bu wheeled toward the new enemy, but immediately the rolling drums gave the signal to retire, and Lu Bu could not come to blows with them. As he called in his army, the gongs clanged on the other side and his former opponent Li Jue came to attack his front. But before Lu Bu could join battle, his rear was again assaulted by Guo Si, who in his turn drew off immediately.
Thus Lu Bu was baited till his bosom was near bursting with rage. the same tactics continued for several days. He could neither strike his enemies nor escape them. His troops had no rest.
In the midst of these distracting maneuver, a messenger rode up in hot haste to report： “The capital is in imminent danger from a double attack of Fan Chou and Zhang Ji.”
Lu Bu at once ordered a march to save the capital, which became a
rout when both his opponents Li Jue and Guo Si came in pursuit. His loss was heavy.
He soon reached Changan and found the rebels there in enormous numbers and the city
quite surrounded. Lu Bu’s attack had but little effect, and as his temper became more savage under defeat, many of his soldiers went over to the rebels.
He fell into deep melancholy. then a remnant of Dong Zhuo’s adherents still in the city,
led by Li Meng and Wang Fang, began to lend aid to the attackers；
and by and by they secretly opened the city gate and the besiegers poured in.
As they advanced, the news came to Wang Yun, and he consulted Lu Bu.
“they are a lot of rats,” said Lu Bu. “Never mind how many there are of them. Be not in the least anxious.”
So Lu Bu and Li Su went to oppose them. The latter was in advance and met Niu Fu. They fought； Niu Fu was outmatched and retired after suffering a slaughter. But unexpectedly Niu Fu returned in a night attack, found Li Su quite unprepared and drove Li Su’s force some ten miles, slaying many.
Li Su reported the defeat, and Lu Bu raged at him, saying, “You have sullied my reputation as a warrior and destroyed our fighting spirit！”
And Lu Bu put Li Su to death, exposing his head at the camp gate.
Next day Lu Bu advanced his own force and engaged Niu Fu. He overwhelmed Niu Fu and drove him off. That night Niu Fu called in his most trusted man, Hu Chier, to advise him.
Hu Chier said, “Lu Bu is too doughty a fighter for us to hope to overcome him. Our case is hopeless. Our best course is to desert these four generals, secrete their valuables, and leave the army with just a few of our followers.”
the plan of Hu Chier was adopted, and the two traitors and some others that very night packed up and made their way out of camp. They were only half a dozen. They came to a river and, while crossing, Hu Chier, tempted by the lust of wealth, slew his companion. Then he went to offer the head of Niu Fu to Lu Bu. Lu Bu inquired into the matter, and when a follower told him the truth, he put the double traitor Hu Chier to death.
then Lu Bu advanced against the rebels and fell in with Li Jue’s force. Without giving them time to form in battle, Lu Bu attacked. Horses curvetting and spears set, the army dashed in irresistibly,
and Li Jue, making no stand,
fell back a long way.
Li Jue took up a position under a hill fifteen
miles away and thence sent to call his fellows to council.
Remonstrance and appeal being vain, Ma Midi retired. But he said to his colleagues, “Is Wang Yun then careless of the future？ Worthy people are the mainstay of the state； laws are the canons of action. To destroy the mainstay and nullify the laws is to hasten destruction.”
As was just said Wang Yun was obdurate. Cai Yong whose offense was an expression of gratitude was thrown into prison and there strangled. The people of that day wept for Cai Yong, for they refused to see any offense in what he had done, and death was a harsh punishment.
[hip, hip, hip] Dong Zhuo, the dictator, Tyrannized the state, Fell and his sole mourner Shared his direful fate. Zhuge Liang in seclusion Was content to dream, Felt his worth and never Helped a traitor’s scheme. [yip, yip, yip]
Those generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji——whom Dong Zhuo had left to guard Meiwo fled when their master was slain and went into the county of Shanxi in Liangzhou Region. Thence they sent in a memorial entreating amnesty. But Wang Yun would not hear of it.
“Four of them were the chief instruments of Dong Zhuo’s agGREssions. Now though a general amnesty were proclaimed, these men should be excluded from its benefit,” said Wang Yun.
the messenger returned and told the four there was no hope of pardon and they could only flee.
then their adviser, Jia Xu, said, “If we throw away our arms and flee singly, then we shall fall easy victims to any village beadle who may seize us. Rather let us cajole the Shanxi people to throw in their lot with us and make a sudden onslaught on the capital and so avenge Dong Zhuo. If we succeed, we control the court and the empire. There will be enough time to run away if we fail.”
the plan was adopted, and they spread abroad the story that Wang Yun intended to massacre the county.
Having thus thrown the people into a state of terror, they went a step farther and said, “There is no advantage in dying for nothing. Revolt and join us！”
So they cajoled the people into joining them and gathered a host equal to one hundred thousand. This horde was divided into four parts, and they all set out to raid Capital Changan. On the way they fell in with a son-in-law of their late chief,
Wang Yun spoke to Cai Yong angrily,
“Dong Zhuo has been put to death as a rebel,
and all the land rejoices. You, a Han minister,
instead of rejoicing, weep for him. Why？”
Cai Yong confessed his fault, saying, “I am without talent, yet know what is right. I am not the man who turns my back on the dynasty and toward Dong Zhuo. Yet once I experienced his kindness, and I could not help mourning for him.
I know my fault is grave, but I pray you regard the reasons. If you will leave my head and only cut off my feet, you may use me to continue the History of Han, whereby I may have the good fortune to be allowed to expiate my fault.”
All were sorry for Cai Yong, for he was a man of GREat talents, and they begged that he might be spared.
the Imperial Guardian, Ma Midi, secretly interceded for him, saying, “Cai Yong is famous as a scholar, and he can write glorious history, and it is inadvisable to put to death a man renowned for rectitude without consideration.”
But in vain, for the High Minister was now strong and obdurate.
[e] Emperor Wu, aka Liu Che, （reigned BC 141-87） whose reign was longest among the Han emperors. Emperor Wu was perhaps the most influential
Han emperor who concerned not only about expanding territory but also about developing trade with other countries （the Silk Road, for example）。
Emperor paid special attention to longevity, and his court often had elaborate rituals. ……
[e] Sima Qian （BC 145-85） astronomer, calendar expert, and the first GREat Chinese historian, noted for his authorship of the “Historical Records” or Shi Ji, which is considered to be the most important history of China down to the end of the 2nd century. ……
Wang Yun said, “Centuries ago, Emperor Wu* spared Sima Qian* and employed him on the annals, with the result that many slanderous stories have been handed down to us. This is a trying period of GREat perplexity,
the person who collided with the irate Dong Zhuo was his most trusty adviser
Li Ru. Li Ru had not fallen in spite of the shock and at once scrambled to help Dong Zhuo to
regain his feet and led him inside to the library, where they sat down.
“What were you coming about？” said Dong Zhuo.
“Happening to be passing your gates, I heard that you had gone into your private garden to look for your adopted son. then came Lu Bu running and crying out that you wanted to kill him, and I was coming in as fast as I could to intercede for him when I accidentally collided with you. I am very sorry. I deserve death.”
“the wretch！ How could I bear to see him toying with my fair one？ I will be the death of his yet.”
“Your Graciousness is making a mistake. It is the ‘plucked tassel’ story over again. But if you remember the banquet of old time where all guests were to tear the tassels of their hats. In that banquet, King Zhuang of Chu made no fuss about the liberties taken with his queen, although the hat-tassel in her hand betrayed the culprit Jiang Xiong. His restraint stood him good stead, for the same Jiang Xiong saved his life when he was hemmed in by the soldiers of Qin. After all Diao Chan is only a handmaid, but Lu Bu is your trustiest friend and most dreaded commander. If you took this chance of making the girl over to him, your kindness would win his undying gratitude. I beg you, Sir, to think over it well.”
Dong Zhuo hesitated a long time. He sat murmuring to himself. Presently he said, “What you say is right. I must think over it.”
Li Ru felt satisfied. He took leave of his master and went away. Dong Zhuo went to his private rooms and called Diao Chan.
“What were you doing there with Lu Bu？” said he.
She began to weep, saying, “Thy handmaid was in the garden among the flowers, when he rushed in on me. I was frightened and ran away. He asked why I ran away from a son of the family and pursued me right to the pavilion, where you saw us. He had that halberd in his hand all the time. I felt he was a vicious man and would force me to his will, so I tried to throw myself into the lily pond, but he caught me in his arms and held me so that I was helpless. Luckily just at that moment you came and saved my life.”
“Suppose I send you to him,” said Dong Zhuo.
Stunned, she pleaded with tears, “What have thy handmaid done？ My honor of serving only Your Highness could not bear being given to a mere underling！ Never！ I would rather die.”
Shisun Rui said, “the moment is favorable. The Emperor has just recovered from his illness, and we can dispatch an able talker to Meiwo to persuade Dong Zhuo to come here to discuss affairs. Meanwhile we will obtain a secret decree as authority for Lu Bu to lay an ambush just inside the Palace gates to kill Dong Zhuo as he enters. This is the best plan to adopt.”
“But who would dare to go？” said Huang Wan.
“Li Su, General of the Imperial Tiger Army, would go. He belongs to the same region as Lu Bu and is very angry with the Prime Minister for not advancing him. His going would assure us the plan would be completed.”
“Good,” said Wang Yun. “Let us see what Lu Bu thinks of it.”
When Lu Bu was consulted, he told them that this Li Su’s persuasion had led him to kill Ding Yuan, his former benefactor.
“If Li Su refuses this mission, I will kill him,” said Lu Bu.
So they sent for Li Su.
When Li Su arrived, Lu Bu said, “Formerly you talked me into killing Ding Yuan and going over to Dong Zhuo. Now we find Dong Zhuo means evil for the Emperor and is an oppressor of the people. His iniquities are many, and he is hated by gods and humans. You go to Meiwo, say you have a command from the Emperor to summon the Prime Minister to the Palace. He will come, and he will be put to death. You will have the credit of being loyal and restoring the Hans. Will you undertake this？”
A wave of fierce wrath rolled up in Lu Bu. Banging the table he shouted and roared.
His host ostentatiously tried to calm him, saying, “I forgot myself. I should not have spoken like that. Do not be so angry, I pray！”
“I will kill the wretch, I swear it！ In no other way can I wash away my shame.”
“No, no！ Do not say such a thing,” said Wang Yun, putting his hand over the other’s mouth. “You will bring trouble on poor me and my family.”
“When one is born GREat, one cannot be patient for long under another person’s domination,” said Lu Bu.
“It needs someone GREater than the Prime Minister to limit the scope of such talents as yours.”
Lu Bu said, “I would not mind killing the old wretch were it not for the relation in which we stand. I fear to provoke the hostile criticism of posterity.”
Wang Yun shook his head, saying, “Your name is Lu Bu； his is Dong Zhuo. Where was the paternal feeling when he threw the halberd at you？”
“I had been misled if you had not said that,” said Lu Bu hotly.
Wang Yun saw the effect of his words and continued, “It would be a loyal deed to restore the House of Han, and history would hand down your name to posterity perpetually fragrant. If you lend your aid to Dong Zhuo, you will be a traitor and your name will be tainted through all ages.”
Lu Bu rose from his place and bowed to Wang Yun.
“I have decided,” said he. “You need not fear, Sir.”
“But yet you may fail and bring upon yourself misfortune,” said Wang Yun.
Lu Bu drew his dagger, pricking his arm, and swearing by the blood that flowed.
Wang Yun fell on his knees and thanked him.
“then the Han sacrifices will not be cut off, and you will be their savior.
But this must remain a secret,