When they had time to see their helper, they found him to be Dong Cheng,
the uncle of the Emperor or the “State Uncle”。 The Emperor wept as he related his sorrows and dangers.
Said Dong Cheng, “Be of good courage, Sire. General Yang Feng and I have pledged ourselves to kill both the rebels Li Jue and Guo Si and so purify the world.”
the Emperor bade them travel east as soon as possible, and so they went on night and day till they reached their destination Hongnong.
Guo Si led his defeated army back. Meeting Li Jue, he told Li Jue of the rescue of the Emperor and whither they was going.
“If they reach the Huashang Mountains and get settled in the east, they will send out proclamations to the whole country, calling up the nobles to attack us, and we and our families will be in danger,” said Guo Si.
“Zhang Ji is holding Changan, and we must be careful. there is nothing to prevent a joint attack on Hongnong, when we can kill the Emperor and divide the empire between us,” said Li Jue.
Guo Si found this a suitable scheme, so their armies came together again in one place and united in plundering the countryside. As they proceeded to Hongnong, they left destruction behind them.
Yang Feng and Dong Cheng heard of the rebels’ approach when they were yet a long way off, so Yang Feng and Dong Cheng turned back and decided to meet them at Dongjian.
Li Jue and Guo Si had previously made their plan. Since the loyal troops were few as
compared with their own horde, they would overwhelm the loyal troops like a flood. So when the day
of battle came, they poured out covering the hills and filling the plains. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng
devoted themselves solely to the protection of the Emperor and Empress. The officials, the attendants,
the archives and records,
and all the paraphernalia of the court were left to care for themselves.
The rebels ravaged Hongnong,
but the two protectors got the Emperor safely away into Shanbei.
Having defeated by Li Jue, Yang Feng fled to the foothills of the Xian；
and he came up to offer his services as soon as he heard the Emperor’s journey. Seeing it was necessary to fight now, he drew up his line of battle.
Guo Si’s general, Cui Yong, rode out and began a volley of abuse.
Yang Feng turned and said, “Where is Xu Huang？”
In response out came a valiant warrior gripping a heavy battle-ax. He galloped up on his fleet bay, making directly for Cui Yong, whom he felled at the first blow. At this the whole force dashed forward and routed Guo Si. The defeated army went back some seven miles.
Yang Feng rode forward to see the Emperor who graciously said, “It is a GREat service you have rendered： You have saved my life.”
Yang Feng bowed and thanked him, and the Emperor asked to see the actual slayer of the rebel leader. So Xu Huang was led to the chariot where he bowed and was presented as Xu Huang of Hedong.
the Emperor recognized the achievement of the warrior.
then the cavalcade went forward, Yang Feng acting as escort as far as the city of Huaying, the halting place for the night. The Commander of the place, Duan Wei, supplied them with clothing and food. And the Emperor passed the night in Yang Feng’s camp.
Next day Guo Si, having mustered his troops, appeared in front of the camp, and Xu Huang rode out to engage. But Guo Si threw his army out so that they entirely surrounded the camp, and the Emperor was in the middle.
The position was very critical,
when help appeared in the person of a galloping general from the southeast,
and the rebels fell away at his assault.
Then Xu Huang smote them and so scored a victory.
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.
“It does not follow,” said Huangfu Li. “In ancient days in Youqiong, Hou Yi, proud of and confident in his archer’s skill, gave no thought to others and governed alone, and he so perished.
Lately you yourself have seen the powerful Dong Zhuo betrayed by Lu Bu, who had received many benefits at his hands. In no time Dong Zhuo’s head was hanging over the gate. So you see mere
force is not enough to ensure safety. Now you are a general, with the axes and whips and all the symbols of rank and high office； your descendants and all your clan occupy distinguished positions.
You must confess that the state has rewarded you liberally. True, Guo Si has seized the officers of state, but you have done the same to the ‘Most Revered.’ Who is worse than the other？”
Li Jue angrily drew his sword and shouted, “Did the Son of Heaven send you to mock and shame me？”
But his commander, Yang Feng, checked him.
“Guo Si is still alive,” said Yang Feng, “and to slay the imperial messenger would be giving him a popular excuse to raise an army against you. And all the nobles would join him.”
Jia Xu also persuaded Li Jue, and gradually his wrath cooled down. Huangfu Li was urged to go away.
But Huangfu Li would not be satisfied with failure. As he went out of the camp, he cried loudly,
“Li Jue will not obey the Emperor’s command. He will kill his prince to set up himself！”
Counselor Hu Miao tried to shut Huangfu Li’s mouth, saying, “Do not utter such words. You will only bring hurt upon yourself.”
But Huangfu Li shrieked at him also, saying, “You also are an officer of state, and yet you even back up the rebel. When the prince is put to shame, the minister dies. That is our code. If it be my lot to suffer death at the hands of Li Jue, so be it！”
And Huangfu Li maintained a torrent of abuse. the Emperor heard of the incident, called in Huangfu Li and sent him away to his own country Xiliang.
Now more than half Li Jue’s troops were from Xiliang, and he had also the assistance of the Qiangs, the northern tribespeople beyond the border.
When Huangfu Li spread that Li Jue was a
rebel and so were those who helped him,
and that there would be a day of heavy
reckoning, those stories disturbed the soldiers.
Here are we two officers of the Throne, and we cannot help our lord. We have been born in vain,”
said Yang Biao to Zhu Jun.
Throwing their arms about each other, they wept and fell swooning to the earth. Zhu Jun went home, fell seriously ill and died.
thereafter the two adversaries fought every day for nearly three months, each losing many soldiers.
Now Li Jue was irreligious and practiced magic. He often called witches to beat drums and summon spirits, even when in camp. Jia Xu used to remonstrate with him, but quite uselessly.
Yang Qi said to the Emperor, “That Jia Xu, although a friend of Li Jue, never seems to have lost the sense of loyalty to Your Majesty.”
Soon after Jia Xu himself arrived.
the Emperor sent away his attendants and said to Jia Xu, weeping the while, “Can you not pity the Hans and help me？”
Jia Xu prostrated himself, saying, “That is my dearest wish. But, Sire, say no more： Let thy servant work out a plan.”
the Emperor dried his tears, and soon Li Jue came in. He wore a sword by his side and strode straight up to the Emperor, whose face became the color of clay.
then Li Jue spoke, “Guo Si has failed in his duty and imprisoned the court officers. He wished to slay Your Majesty, and you would have been captured but for me.”
the Emperor joined his hands together in salute and thanked Li Jue. Li Jue went away.
Before long Huangfu Li entered. the Emperor, knowing him as a man of persuasive tongue and that he came from the same county as Li Jue, bade him go to both factions to try to arrange peace.
Huangfu Li accepted the mission and first went to Guo Si, who said, “I would release the officers if Li Jue would restore the Emperor to full liberty.”
Huangfu Li then went to the other side. To Li Jue he said, “Since I am a Xiliang man, the Emperor and the officers have selected me to make peace between you and your adversary. Guo Si has consented to cease the quarrel. Will you aGREe to peace？”
“I overthrew Lu Bu； I have upheld the government for four years and have many GREat services to my credit as all the world knows.
That other fellow, that horse-thief,
has dared to seize the officers of state and to set himself up against me.
I have sworn to slay him. Look around you.
Do you not think my army large enough to break him？”
Guo Si’s army arrived, and Li Jue went out to give battle. Guo Si’s troops had no success and retired. then Li Jue removed the imperial captives to Meiwo with his nephew Li Xian as gaoler. Supplies were reduced, and famine showed itself on the faces of the eunuchs. The Emperor sent to Li Jue to request five carts of rice and five sets of bullock bones for his attendants.
Li Jue angrily replied, “the court gets food morning and evening. Why do they ask for more？”
He sent putrid meat and rotten grain, and the Emperor was very vexed at the new insult.
Imperial Counselor Yang Qi counseled patience, saying, “Li Jue is a base creature but, under the present circumstances, Your Majesty must put up with it. You may not provoke him.”
the Emperor bowed and was silent, but the tears fell on his garments. Suddenly someone came in with the tidings that a force of cavalry, their sabers glittering in the sun, was approaching to rescue them. Then they heard the gongs beat and the roll of the drums.
the Emperor sent to find out who it was. But it was Guo Si, and the sadness fell again. Presently arose a GREat din. For Li Jue had gone out to do battle with Guo Si, whom he abused by name.
“I treated you well, and why did you try to kill me？” said Li Jue.
“You are a rebel, why should I not slay you？” cried Guo Si.
“You call me rebel when I am guarding the Emperor？”
“You have abducted him： Do you call that guarding？”
“Why so many words？ Let us forgo a battle and settle the matter in single combat, the winner to take the Emperor and go.”
the two generals fought in front of their armies, but neither could prevail over the other.
then they saw Yang Biao come riding up to them, crying, “Rest a while, O Commanders！ For I have invited a party of officers to arrange a peace.”
Wherefore the two leaders retired to their camps. Soon Yang Biao, Zhu Jun, and sixty other officials came up and went to Guo Si’s camp. They were all thrown into confinement.
“We came with good intentions,” they moaned, “and we are treated like this.”
“Li Jue has run off with the Emperor； I have to have the officers,” said Guo Si.
“What does it mean？ One has the Emperor, the other his officers.
What do you want？” said Yang Biao.
Guo Si lost patience and drew his sword,
but Commander Yang Mi persuaded him not to slay the speaker.
Then Guo Si released Yang Biao and Zhu Jun but kept the others in the camp.
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.
Lady Qiong did not wish him to go and she said,
“This Li Jue is very deep, and one cannot fathom his designs. You two are not of equal rank, and if he made away with you, what would become of your poor handmaid？”
Guo Si paid no attention, and his wife could not prevail on him to stay at home.
Late in the afternoon some presents arrived from Li Jue’s palace, and Lady Qiong secretly put poison into the delicacies before she set them before her lord.
Guo Si was going to taste at once but she said, “It is unwise to consume things that come from outside. Let us try on a dog first.”
they did and the dog died. This incident made Guo Si doubt the kindly intentions of his colleague.
One day, at the close of business at court, Li Jue
invited Guo Si to his palace. After Guo Si arrived home in the evening, rather the worse for too much wine,
he was seized with a colic. His wife said she suspected poison and hastily administered an emetic, which relieved the pain.
Guo Si began to feel angry, saying, “We did everything together and helped each other always. Now he wants to injure me. If I do not get in the first blow, I shall suffer some injury.”
So Guo Si began to prepare his guards for any sudden emergency.
This was told to Li Jue, and he in turn GREw angry, saying, “So Guo Si is doing so and so！”
then Li Jue got his guards under way and came to attack Guo Si.
Both houses had ten thousand,
and the quarrel became so serious that they fought a pitched battle under the city walls.
When that was over both sides turned to plunder the people.
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.