Zhang Yide gets angry and whips the County Inspector; Royal uncle He plots the murder of the wretched eunuchs.
Let us now take a moment to talk about Dong Zhuo, whose style name was Zhongying, and was from Lintao in Longxi. His official title was governor of Hedong Commandery, and he had always been arrogant. On the day that he slighted Xuande, Zhang Fei flew into a rage, and wanted to kill him. Xuande and Lord Guan rushed to stop him, saying, "He is an official appointed by the court, how can you take matters into your own hands and kill him?" Fei replied, "If I don't kill this scoundrel, I will end up under his command and have to take orders from him; in all honesty, I have no desire to do that! If you two brothers of mine would like to stay here, I will go it alone somewhere else!" Xuande said, "We three are bound by oath to live and die together, how can we part from each other? It would be better for all three of us to go elsewhere." Fei replied, "If that is the case, it would abate my anger somewhat."
The three of them then led their troops night and day toward Zhu Jun's position. Jun was very gracious; he combined the two groups, and together they went after Zhang Bao. At this point in time, Cao Cao had joined Huangfu Song in going after Zhang Liang; they were engaged in a major battle in Quyang. Meanwhile, Zhu Jun launched an attack against Zhang Bao. Zhang Bao was in command of eighty to ninety thousand troops. They were holed up in the mountains. Jun ordered Xuande to take point, and engage with the bandit rebel force. Zhang Bao sent his second in command, Gao Sheng, to ride out on horseback and pick a fight; Xuande directed Zhang Fei to attack him. Fei raced out on his horse, his long lance raised, and engaged Sheng in combat. After not more than a couple of passes, Sheng was skewered, and fell from his horse. Xuande commanded his troops to charge. Zhang Bao hastily raised his straight sword, and began performing sorcery. All one could see was a large amount of wind and thunder, and then a black haze emerged from out of nowhere. Emerging out of the black haze was a countless number of soldiers on horseback, who killed everyone in their path. Xuande quickly ordered his army to retreat, but the rank and file descended into chaos. Having been soundly beaten, he returned to confer with Zhu Jun. Jun said, "He is using sorcery; tomorrow I will slaughter pigs, rams and dogs for their blood. I will order my troops to hide on the hilltops. They will wait for the bandit rebels to rush in, then pour blood on them from above. This should nullify their magic."
Xuande followed orders, and allocated 1,000 soldiers each to Lord Guan and Zhang Fei. They were both to hide their troops high up on a ridge, and prepare the contaminant made from the blood of pigs, rams and dogs. The following day, Zhang Bao led his men, waving their banners and beating their war drums, out to pick a fight. Xuande rode out to meet them. Just as the two armies began to cross swords, Zhang Bao performed his sorcery. The wind howled and the thunder roared; dust and debris was kicked up by the wind, and a black haze enveloped the sky. A steady stream of people and horses appeared from nowhere. Xuande wheeled his horse around and took off in a dead run. Zhang Bao ordered his soldiers to give chase. As soon as they passed by the hilltop, Guan and Zhang's hidden armies ignited their signal flares, and began pouring down the contaminant in unison. After that, all they could see were paper men and straw horses falling to the ground in great numbers. The wind and thunder stopped in an instant, and sand no longer flew all over the place. Zhang Bao saw that his magic spell had been broken and hurried to recall his troops. With Lord Guan on the left, and Zhang Fei on the right, both armies came out of hiding, while Xuande and Zhu Jun brought up the rear. The bandit rebel army suffered a major defeat. Xuande saw the general of the earth banners, and raced his horse in that direction. Zhang Bao fled the scene, avoiding the well-traveled routes. Xuande shot an arrow at him, which pierced his left arm. Zhang Bao escaped with the arrow still in him; he entered the city of Yangcheng, and dug in. Zhu Jun had his army surround Yangcheng, and then launched an attack. He also sent someone to bring back news of Huangfu Song.
The messenger reported back, saying, "Huangfu Song won a major victory, and because of Dong Zhuo's numerous defeats, the court ordered that Song replace him. When Song arrived, Zhang Jue was already dead. Zhang Liang was now the leader, and was locked in battle with our forces. Zhang Liang lost seven straight battles to Huangfu Song, and was beheaded in Quyang. They recovered Zhang Jue's casket; then they mutilated his body, and sent the head back to the capital so that it could be posted high on a wooden pole for all to see. All of the remaining followers surrendered. The court granted Huangfu Song the title of general of chariots and cavalry, and made him overlord of Jizhou. Also, Huangfu Song submitted a petition to the emperor on behalf of Lu Zhi, emphasizing his innocence and his achievements. The court restored Lu Zhi to his original position. Cao Cao was awarded with a new post as well, thanks to his own achievements. He was made minister of Jinan; he disbanded his army that very day, and departed for his new post."
After Zhu Jun listened to the report, he pressed his army to attack Yangcheng with all their might. The bandit rebels' situation was desperate. The bandit rebel leaders were exceedingly harsh in their governance; Zhang Bao was assassinated, and his head was offered as proof of his followers' sincerity in wanting to surrender. Thus, Zhu Jun pacified several commanderies; he submitted a report to the emperor which listed all of the loot obtained from the campaign.
時有黃巾餘黨三人， --- 趙弘、韓忠、孫仲， --- 聚眾數萬，望風燒劫，稱與張角報仇。朝廷命朱雋即以得勝之師討之。雋奉詔，率軍前進。時賊據宛城，雋引兵攻之，趙弘遣韓忠出戰。雋遣玄德、關、張攻城西南角。韓忠盡率精銳之眾，來西南角抵敵。朱雋自縱鐵騎二千，逕取東北角。賊恐失城，急棄西南面回。玄德從背後掩殺，賊眾大敗，奔入宛城。朱雋分兵四面圍定，城中斷糧，韓忠使人出城投降。雋不許。
At that time, there were still three remaining Yellow Turban diehards, --- Zhao Hong, Han Zhong and Sun Zhong, --- who had gathered between twenty to thirty thousand troops. Following in the footsteps laid out by their illustrious former leader, they burned and pillaged, saying that it was in the name of avenging Zhang Jue. The court ordered Zhu Jun to immediately prosecute, using his army which was now flush with victory. Jun obeyed the imperial edict, and led his army on an advance. At the time, the bandit rebels were occupying Wancheng. Jun led his army on an attack, while Zhao Hong sent Han Zhong out to fight. Jun sent Xuande, Guan and Zhang to attack the southwest corner of the city. Han Zhong gathered up all of his best troops, and deployed them to the southwest corner to defend against the enemy. In the meantime, Zhu Jun set loose a force of 2,000 armored cavalry, and made a direct play for the northeast corner. The bandit rebels feared that they would lose the city, and immediately abandoned the southwest corner so that they could regroup. Xuande took them by surprise from the rear; having suffered a major defeat, the bandit rebels now retreated into Wancheng as fast as possible. Zhu Jun divided his forces, and surrounded the city on all sides. The city was now cut off from any new food supplies, so Han Zhong sent someone out of the city to say that they were ready to surrender. However, Jun would not allow it.
Xuande asked, "In the days of old, when Gaozu took over the world, did he not entice his enemies to surrender and allow those who obeyed his governance to rejoin society; why do you refuse Han Zhong?" Jun replied, "That was then, this is now. In the days of old, during the time of Qin and Xiang, the world was in chaos, and the people had not chosen a leader. Therefore, enticing the enemy to surrender with the promise of a reward made sense. Nowadays, the country is united, with the exception of the Yellow Turbans who are in rebellion; if we were to allow them to surrender, nothing good would come from it. If we give the bandit rebels a leg up, they will rob and plunder at will; if we cause them to lose the advantage, they can simply surrender; this emboldens the will of the bandit rebels, so it is not a good strategy." Xuande said, "We will not allow the thugs to surrender, and that's that. We now have them surrounded as if they were in an iron barrel; even if they beg to surrender, they will receive no quarter, this will inevitably be a fight to the death. Ten thousand people are of the same mind; resistance is futile. At any rate, doesn't this mean that tens of thousands of city residents now have a death sentence? It would be better to withdraw our forces from the southeast, and focus our attack on the northwest. The bandit rebels will be forced to abandon the city and leave. They will unintentionally get caught up in the heat of battle, and then we can nab them."
Jun concurred with him, and they withdrew the forces from the southeast; the two forces, now united, attacked the northwest in unison. As expected, Han Zhong abandoned the city and fled with his army. Jun, along with Xuande, Guan and Zhang, led the three armies on a surprise attack. Han Zhong was killed by an arrow, and the rest scattered in all four directions.
Just as they were catching up, Zhao Hong and Sun Zhong led their bandit army in an attack on Jun. Jun saw that Hong's army was powerful, and withdrew for the time being. Hong took advantage of the situation and again took control of Wancheng. Jun traveled about ten li, then made camp. Just as he was about to mount an attack, he suddenly saw a group of horses and men approaching from due east. In the lead was a man with a wide forehead and broad face, a torso like a tiger's, and a waist like a bear's; he was from Fuchun in the Wu Commandery. His surname was Sun, his given name was Jian, and his style name was Wentai; he was a descendant of Sun Wuzi. When he was seventeen years old, he traveled with his father to Qiantang. Along the way, they spotted more than ten pirates who had robbed some merchants, and were now on shore dividing up the loot. Jian said to his father, "I must arrest these pirates." He then took out his sword, and made his way onto shore with much bravado, screaming and shouting, and giving commands to his east and to his west, as if giving instructions to a bunch of men. The pirates assumed that government troops had arrived, ditched all of their loot, and fled the scene. Jian chased after them and killed one of the pirates. Because of this, he became somewhat of a local celebrity, and was recommended for the position of captain. Later on, the evil bandit Xu Chang from Guiji started a rebellion, calling himself the Yangming Emperor, and had amassed a force of tens of thousands. Jian and the commandery's military clerk recruited a force of more than one thousand brave men. They came together from the various cities and counties in order to quash the rebels, and to behead Xu Chang and his son Xu Shao. Provincial governor Zang Min wrote a glowing letter of praise to the emperor; as a result, Jian was made an assistant governor of Yandu, Xuyi and Xiapi Counties. Recently, he saw that the Yellow Turban bandits had staged an uprising, so he gathered together all of the local youths and traveling merchants, along with more than 1,500 elite troops from the area around the Huai and Si Rivers, and set out to intercept them.
Zhu Jun was overjoyed, and ordered Jian to attack the south gate; Xuande would attack the north gate, Zhu Jun would attack the west gate, and the east gate was given over to the bandits so that they could make their exit. Sun Jian first climbed onto the city wall, then he slew more than twenty of the bandit rebels. The bandit rebels all scattered. Zhao Hong charged on his horse at full speed, his long lance raised, directly toward Sun Jian. Jian leaped from the city wall and grabbed Hong's lance. He then stabbed Hong, who fell from his horse. He jumped onto Hong's horse and rode back and forth at high speeds, killing bandit rebels. Sun Zhong led his bandits out the north gate, directly toward Xuande. Unintentionally caught up in the heat of battle, all his men could think about was fleeing. Xuande drew back an arrow onto his bow, and shot at Sun Zhong, who fell over off of his horse when the arrow struck home. After that, Zhu Jun's vast army went on a killing rampage before anyone had time to react. They took tens of thousands of heads, and it became impossible to tally up all of the people who surrendered. Near Nanyang, more than ten commanderies had been pacified. Jun disbanded his army, and returned to the capital. In an imperial edict, he was granted the title of general of chariots and cavalry; he was also made commander of Henan. Zhu Jun submitted a petition to the emperor in which he praised the accomplishments of both Sun Jian and Liu Bei. Jian had connections, so he was made military clerk in another commandery, and left to take up his new post. However, Xuande still had not received an assignment, even after many days of waiting.
The three of them were depressed, and were wandering aimlessly about the streets of town, when commander Zhang Jun's chariot arrived. Xuande paid him a visit, and recounted all of his accomplishments. Jun was shocked, and raised the issue with the emperor on his next visit to the palace. He said, "When the Yellow Turbans rebelled, it was all because the ten regular attendants had accepted bribes from people that wanted to obtain an official post or title of nobility. They would not hire someone unless he was one of their cronies, and they would not punish anyone that was not their personal enemy. This led to chaos across the country. We should behead the ten regular attendants, and hang their heads on poles in the south area of the capital. Then, we should send emissaries to inform the entire country; the men who have made significant contributions should be given sizable rewards, which will pacify the nation." The ten regular attendants submitted a written petition to the emperor which said that, "Zhang Jun is bullying the emperor." The emperor commanded the armed guards to escort Zhang Jun out of the palace. The ten regular attendants consulted with each other, saying, "This arrangement will certainly cause damage to the men who helped put down the Yellow Turbans. If these people do not obtain posts, it will stir up resentment among them. For the time being, we should instruct the relevant officials to register them for some minor positions. That way, it will not be too late if we need to deal with them later on." Because of this, Xuande was made magistrate of Anxi county, which was under the jurisdiction of the Zhongshan government seat. A date was set for him to take up his post. Xuande led his troops back home and released them from service. He only brought a retinue of a little more than twenty men to Anxi, which included Guan and Zhang. He had been in his position for one month, and not a single infraction was committed against the people. Through his example, the people were all motivated to reform their errant ways. After taking up his post, he ate at the same table, and slept in the same bed, with Guan and Zhang. However, when Xuande was in a public venue, Guan and Zhang would stand beside him all day long in attendance, and not get tired.
They had not yet been in the county for four months, when the court issued an edict; civil officials with military experience were to be removed from their posts. Xuande suspected that he might also be relieved of his duties. Around that time, the county inspector was making his rounds to each county. When he arrived, Xuande went outside of the outer city walls to greet him. When he spotted the inspector, he gave him a salute. However, the inspector merely responded with a slight wave of his riding crop while still on his horse. Guan and Zhang were both incensed by the slight. After they all arrived at the inn, the inspector took his place on the raised platform on the south side of the room, with Xuande standing in attendance at the foot of the platform. After a while, the inspector asked, "County magistrate Liu, what is your family background?" Xuande replied, "I am the descendant of Prince Jing of Zhongshan; I came from Zhuo Commandery to fight against the Yellow Turbans. I have probably been involved in more than thirty battles. I was moderately successful, so I was given my current post." The inspector shouted back, "You're lying about being related to the imperial family, and you have made a false report about your exploits! The court has now issued an edict; we want to get rid of corrupt officials like you!" Xuande could only to blurt out a steady stream of "yes sirs" as he was leaving; he then returned to the county seat to consult the county clerk. The clerk said, "If the inspector is throwing about his weight, it can only be because he wants a bribe." Xuande replied, "I have not committed even the slightest infraction against the people, where would I get the money to give to him?" The following day, the inspector went to the county clerk, and forced him to testify that the county magistrate had caused harm to the people. Xuande personally went on multiple occasions to plead for leniency, but was intercepted by the gate guards on each occasion. The inspector was unwilling to grant him an audience.
Let us now turn to Zhang Fei, who had been drowning his sorrows with multiple cups of wine. As he was riding his horse past the inn, he spotted fifty or sixty old people, all standing in front of the gate weeping and sobbing. When Fei asked the reason, all of the old people responded, saying, "The county inspector is forcing the county clerk to cause harm to Lord Liu; we have all come to lodge our strongest protests, but have not been allowed inside. Moreover, we were beaten back by the gate guards!" Zhang Fei flew into a rage, his eyes grew wide as saucers, and his teeth clenched up like a steel vice. He scrambled off of his horse, and walked straight into the inn. Who among the gate guards would have even been able to block his way? He strode into the rear chamber, and saw that the county inspector was in the midst of holding court. The county clerk was tied up and lying on the floor. Fei screamed out, "You rotten scoundrel. You are causing harm to the people! Do you know who I am?" The county inspector had no time to respond before Zhang Fei grabbed him by his hair, and dragged him out of the inn. He took him to the front of the county seat, and bound him to the hitching post for horses. He then broke off a willow branch, and began to flog the inspector about the legs with great force. He broke more than ten willow branches in a row.
While Xuande was sulking, he heard a loud noise from the county seat, and asked his attendants what was happening. They said, "General Zhang has bound someone at the county seat, and is now viciously beating him." Xuande hurried over to see what was happening, and then he saw that it was the county inspector who had been bound. Startled, Xuande asked for the reason. Fei responded, "People like this here scoundrel, who injure the people, need to be beaten to death, or what have we come to!" The county inspector cried out, " Xuande, save my life!" After all, Xuande was a kind person, so he urgently yelled at Zhang Fei to stop. Lord Guan came over from the side, and said, "Brother, you have done so many great things, but have only been granted the position of county magistrate. Now, you have been insulted by the county inspector. I think that a thorn bush is no place for a phoenix to roost; It would be better to kill the county inspector, resign from your post, and return home. Then make another grandiose plans." Xuande then took his official seal, and hung it around the county inspector's neck. He then scolded him, saying, "Since you have harmed the people, I should kill you and be done with it. However, I am going to spare your life. I am returning my official seal, and am now leaving." The county inspector reported the matter to the governor of Dingzhou, who then submitted a written request to the provincial level government for an arrest warrant. Xuande, Guan and Zhang all headed for Daizhou to seek out Liu Hui. When Liu Hui discovered that Xuande was a member of the house of Han, he hid him away at his residence and kept silent.
Let us now turn to the ten regular attendants; by now, they wielded a considerable amount of power. After discussing the issue with each other, they decided that anyone who did not comply with their demands should be eliminated. Zhao Zhong and Zhang Rang sent people to demand gifts of gold and cloth from the soldiers who fought the Yellow Turbans. Their plan was to petition the emperor to dismiss anyone who did not comply with their demands. Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun refused to give anything, so Zhao Zhong and his faction petitioned the emperor to have both of them removed from their posts. Moreover, the emperor gave the post of general of chariots and cavalry to Zhao Zhong. Thirteen others, including Zhang Rang, were given honorary marquis status. The government administration became increasingly corrupt, and the people began to complain. After that, a bandit from Changsha named Ou Xing began to wreak havoc; and in Yuyang, Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun rose up in rebellion. Ju proclaimed himself Son of Heaven, and Chun declared himself supreme general. Dire reports came flooding into the capital, but the ten regular attendants hid them all, and did not report them to the emperor.
One day, the emperor was enjoying food and drink in the rear courtyard with the ten regular attendants, when Advisor Liu Tao walked straight in front of the emperor and lost his composure. The emperor asked the reason, and Tao responded, "The world is crashing down upon us, and yet Your Majesty is enjoying wine with the eunuchs!" The emperor responded, "The country has been in a state of continuous peace and prosperity, what crisis are you referring to?" Tao said, "Bandits have risen up in every corner of the empire, and are invading all of the cities and commanderies. The reason for this disaster can be traced to the ten regular attendants, who have taken bribes in exchange for granting positions within the government. They have caused great harm to the people, and have deceived their emperor. All of the honest people within the court have left, and disaster is upon us!" The ten regular attendants all removed their hats, and knelt down in prostration in front of the emperor, saying, "If the head ministers do not like us, we will have no way of surviving! We beg for our lives; we would like to return to our home villages, and donate all of our personal wealth in order to help with army provisions." Their words now finished, they began to weep and cry. The emperor angrily addressed Tao, "Your family has personal attendants, why is it that only I am not allowed this privilege?" The emperor called for the guards to take him away and have him beheaded. Liu Tao yelled back, "I do not care about dying! The true pity is that after more than 400 years of Han rule, it all now comes to an end!"
The guards forcibly led Tao out of the chamber. They were about to carry out his sentence, when a senior official yelled at them to stop, saying, "Take no further action, wait for me to advise the emperor." They all looked to see who it was. It was Minister over the Masses Chen Dan. He walked straight into the palace, and admonished the emperor, saying, "What crime has Advisor Liu committed that he should receive a death sentence?" The emperor replied, "He has slandered my closest attendants, and insulted me personally." Dan said, "The people of the nation want to eat the ten regular attendants for breakfast, yet Your Majesty reveres them like parents. They have done nothing of merit, and yet they have all been granted honorary marquis status. Not only that, Feng Xu was in cahoots with the Yellow Turbans, and was on the verge of wreaking havoc. If Your Majesty does not engage in some introspection right now, the country will be toppled for sure!" The emperor responded, "If Feng Xu was involved in wreaking havoc, I was not aware of it. Among the ten regular attendants, surely there must be at least one or two that are loyal ministers?" Chen Dan reiterated his opinion while banging his head on the ground in subservience. The emperor was outraged, and ordered him removed. Both he and Liu Tao were thrown in prison. That night at the prison, the ten regular attendants had them both murdered. They forged an imperial decree which made Sun Jian the governor of Changsha, so that he could prosecute Ou Xing.
Within less than fifty days, victory was reported, and Jiangxia was pacified. An imperial decree was issued which made Jian the marquis of Wucheng; Liu Yu was made overlord of Youzhou, and led his army toward Yuyang in order to go after Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Liu Hui of Daizhou wrote a letter of recommendation on behalf of Xuande, and sent it to Yu. Yu was overjoyed; he issued an order for Xuande to be made a captain, and to lead a force of men to make a direct assault on the bandits' lair. They engaged in heavy fighting with the bandits for several days, and remained steadfast despite several setbacks. Zhang Chun was especially cruel, which caused his soldiers to have a change of heart. Zhang Chun's chief underling stabbed him to death, and then he handed over the head. After that, he led the rebel army in surrender. Zhang Ju saw that the situation was hopeless, so he hanged himself. Yuyang was now completely pacified. Liu Yu reported Liu Bei's exploits to the emperor, so the court pardoned him for the beating of the county inspector. He was made minister of Xiami County, and he was later made a military commander in Gaotang County. Gongsun Zan also wrote a glowing report about Xuande's previous exploits, and recommended that he be made a military clerk in another region. He was then made governor of Pingyuan County. When Xuande was in Pingyuan, he was given a greater stipend and was put in charge of a large number of horses and men. In this way, he was able to restore things back to the way they were in the past. For his role in putting down the bandits, Liu Yu was made Grand Commandant.
In the fourth lunar month of the sixth year of Zhongping, Emperor Ling became deathly ill. He summoned supreme general He Jin to the palace to discuss the matter of his successor. He Jin originally came from a family of butchers. However, his younger sister had become a consort within the palace, and had given birth to Prince Bian. As a result, she became an empress, and Jin was given an important and powerful post. Emperor Ling had a special fondness for Consort Wang, who gave birth to Prince Xie. Empress He became jealous, and killed Consort Wang by poisoning her. After that, Prince Xie was raised within the palace of Empress Dowager Dong. Empress Dowager Dong was the mother of Emperor Ling, and the wife of Liu Chang, Marquis of Jiedu Ting. Since Emperor Huan had no sons, the son of Marquis of Jiedu Ting was selected for the throne; this was Emperor Ling. Emperor Ling succeeded the throne, so his mother was also brought into the palace, and was given the title of empress dowager.
Empress Dowager Dong had advised the emperor to make Prince Xie the crown prince. The emperor was also partial to Xie, and wanted to pick him as his successor. Jian Shuo, the emperor's personal attendant, addressed the emperor, saying, "If Xie is chosen, He Jin must first be killed, in order to avoid any future repercussions." The emperor agreed, and summoned Jin to the palace. When Jin arrived at the gates to the palace, a military clerk named Pan Yin said to Jin, "You must not enter the palace. Jian Shuo will have you murdered." Jin was shocked; he hurried back to his private residence, and summoned all of his ministers. He wanted to kill all of the eunuchs. A man on the dais defiantly stood up and said, "The power of the eunuchs has been building ever since the time of Chong and Zhi. They have spread like a virus throughout the court; how can we possibly kill them all? If the plot is not kept secret, they could wipe us from the face of the earth." Jin looked at him, and saw that it was junior captain Cao Cao. Jin rebuked him, saying, "What would a junior ranking officer like you know about important matters of the court!"
Just as they were pondering their next move, Pan Yin arrived, and said, "The emperor is already dead. Today, Jian Shuo talked things over with the ten regular attendants; the death is to be kept secret so that they can forge an imperial edict which summons Uncle He to the palace. They would like to take care of any future repercussions, and they would like to hold a ceremony to make Prince Xie the new emperor."
He had not even finished speaking, when the order arrived for Jin to enter the palace as soon as possible so that a successor could be chosen. Cao said, "For now, the plan should be: first, choose the correct successor to the throne; next, deal with the traitors." Jin said, "Who is daring enough to join with me in choosing the correct successor and in prosecuting the traitors?" One man stood up and said, "I would like to ready five thousand elite troops, and we will fight our way into the palace. We will then put a new successor on the throne, and kill all of the wretched eunuchs. We shall sweep through the court until it is free of any impurities, and thus bring peace to the country!" Jin saw that it was the son of Minister over the Masses Yuan Feng, and the nephew of Yuan Wei. His surname was Yuan, and his given name was Shao; his style name was Benchu. He was currently serving as Colonel Director of Retainers. He Jin was overjoyed, and gave him five thousand men from the capital guard. Shao dressed himself in full-body armor. He Jin took more than thirty people with him, including such important ministers as He Yong, Xun You and Zheng Tai. They all filed into the palace, and in front of Emperor Ling's coffin, they helped Prince Bian onto the imperial throne.
After all of the officials had finished paying their respects, Yuan Shao entered the palace to capture Jian Shuo. Shuo panicked and ran out into the courtyard, where he was killed in the shade of the bushes by the attendant Guo Sheng. The palace guards that Shuo was in charge of all surrendered. Shao said to He Jin, "The eunuchs have formed a faction, and now we should seize the opportunity to kill them all." People like Zhang Rang understood the dire nature of the situation, and hurriedly ran into Empress He's chambers, saying, "It was only ever Jian Shuo who plotted to set up the supreme general. It had nothing to do with us. Now the general has listened to Yuan Shao's advice and wants to kill all of us. We beg our empress for mercy!" Empress He replied, "Don't you worry, I will protect you." She then sent a decree which ordered He Jin to enter her chambers. The empress dowager confided in him, "You and me, we're both from humble and lowly origins. If it weren't for Zhang Rang and the others, how could we possibly have attained this wealth and prestige? Jian Shuo has now acted ungraciously, and was killed for his misdeeds. How can you believe what people are saying, and want to kill all of the eunuchs?"
After He Jin heard her explanation, he went out and told everyone, "Jian Shuo has plotted my demise, and his entire family should be killed for it. It is not necessary to cause additional harm to any of the others." Yuan Shao said, "If you don't nip this in the bud, it will eventually be the death of you." Jin replied, "I have already made up my mind, say nothing further." After that, they all dispersed.
次日，太后命何進參錄尚書事，其餘皆封官職。董太后宣張讓等入宮商議曰：「何進之妹，始初我抬舉他。今日他孩兒即皇帝位，內外臣僚，皆其心腹，威權太重，我將如何？」讓對曰：「娘娘可臨朝，垂簾聽政；封皇子協為王；加國舅董重大官，掌握軍機，重用臣等；大事可圖矣。」 The following day, the empress dowager ordered that He Jin be made chief of staff. All of her other people were also given official posts. Empress Dowager Dong summoned Zhang Rang to her chambers to discuss the matter. She said, "At first, I helped to advance He Jin's younger sister. Now that her son has become emperor, all of the ministers from inside and outside of the palace are her trusted confidents. She has too much power; what should I do?" Rang addressed her, saying, "You could personally take over the running of the government. You could make Prince Xie the emperor, and rule on his behalf from behind a curtain. You could then place your brother Dong Chong in a powerful post, and put him in charge of the military. If you assign me and my colleagues to important positions, you will be able to accomplish great things."
Empress Dowager Dong was overjoyed. The following day at court, Empress Dowager Dong handed down a decree which made Prince Xie the Prince of Chenliu. Dong Chong was made general of fast cavalry. Zhang Rang and his colleagues were all granted administrative powers to run the government. Empress Dowager He saw that Empress Dowager Dong was monopolizing power, so she organized a banquet within the palace, and requested that Empress Dowager Dong attend. After a few cups of wine, Empress Dowager He stood up, wine cup in hand, and bowed twice, saying, "We're just women after all. It is not appropriate for us to participate in the running of the government. In the past, Empress Lü was given power and as a result, a thousand people of the same clan were killed. We should dwell behind the cloistered walls of the palace. Major affairs of state should be delegated to senior ministers, who consult with each other on their own. This is a good thing for the nation, do you really want to personally run things?" Empress Dowager Dong flew into a rage, saying, "It was you who poisoned Consort Wang out of spite and jealousy. It is only because your son is the emperor, and the mighty He Jin is your brother, that you dare speak such non-sense! I could command the general of fast cavalry to cut off your brother's head with a wave of my hand!" Empress He also responded in anger, saying, "I was using friendly words when I gave you advice, why do you respond with such anger?" Empress Dong said, "You come from a low-class family of meat butchers and wine sellers, what do you know about anything!"
As the two of them continued their war of words, Zhang Rang and his colleagues urged both of them to return to their chambers. Empress He sent word day and night for He Jin to come to the palace; when he arrived, she told him what had happened. He Jin came out, and immediately convened a meeting with the three most senior ministers. He made them hold court in the early hours of the morning, and issue a statement saying that Empress Dowager Dong started out as the wife of a low-ranking noble, and hence should not permanently reside at the palace. It further stated that it would be best if she were relocated to Hejian, and that she would have a fixed number of days within which to leave the gates of the capital. They then sent someone to escort Empress Dong, while at the same time ordering the capital guards to surround general of fast cavalry Dong Chong's manor. They were to apprehend him, and take possession of his official government seal. Dong Chong understood the dire nature of the situation, and committed suicide in a rear hall. The military troops did not disperse until his family members held the funeral. When Zhang Rang and Duan Gui saw that Empress Dong's branch of the family had been nullified, they resorted to using bribes of gold and pearls to collude with He Jin's younger brother He Miao and his mother, the Lady of Wuyang. The stipulation was that sooner or later, they would meet with Empress Dowager He and put in a good word so that the eunuchs would be protected. Because of this, the ten regular attendants acquired a new benefactor.
In the sixth lunar month, He Jin secretly sent someone to poison Empress Dong at her villa in Hejian. Her coffin was transported back to the capital, and laid to rest at the Wen Imperial tombs. Jin faked an illness, and did not attend the funeral. Colonel Director of Retainers Yuan Shao came in to see Jin, and said, "Zhang Rang and Duan Gui are spreading rumors. They are saying that you poisoned Empress Dong, and that you are plotting something major. If we do not seize this opportunity to kill the eunuchs, there will be a major catastrophe later on. In the past, Dou Wu wanted to kill them, but his secret plot was revealed, which then brought about his downfall. Right now, your allies within the military and civil bureaucracy are all stout and able men. If you were to pull out all of the stops, you could take control. You cannot let this opportune moment pass by." Jin replied, "We should discuss this more." One of his attendants secretly reported the conversation to Zhang Rang. Rang then relayed the information to He Miao, along with even more bribes. Miao went to Empress He, and said, "The supreme general has helped to establish a new ruler, but he has not showed any leniency. He seems bent on killing. Now he wants to kill the ten regular attendants for no reason. This is the path to chaos." The empress took his words to heart.
After a while, He Jin went to the empress to tell her about his desire to kill the eunuchs. Empress He said, "The eunuchs are in charge of the imperial household. The house of Han has operated in this way for generations. The late emperor has only recently abandoned this world for the next, yet you want to kill all of his old ministers; this does not show proper respect to the temple of our ancestors." Jin was not a decisive man in any case, so he listened to the empress dowager and murmured his compliance as he was leaving. Yuan Shao intercepted him and asked, "What has become of our great undertaking?" Jin replied, "The empress dowager will not allow it, so what can I do?" Shao said, "You could recruit brave soldiers from all over, and bring them into the capital to kill all of the wretched eunuchs. At this point, the situation is desperate. The empress dowager must not be allowed to dissent." Jin said, "That is a brilliant plan!" He then sent notices to every hamlet, calling on troops to come to the capital.
Chief of records Chen Lin said, "You must not! As the saying goes, 'to cover one's eyes while trying to catch a brambling,' this is to deceive oneself. If you are still unable to assert your will over small things, what about important matters of state? You now rely on imperial might, and a command of the military, to throw your weight about and do as you please. Your wanting to kill the eunuchs is akin to lighting a large oven just to burn up a few hairs. You merely need to unleash your wrath quickly. If you exercise your powers in a decisive manner, then everyone will follow your lead. But instead, you have issued a call to arms to all of the important ministers. They are streaming into the capital. With all of these heroes gathered together, each with a mind of his own, you are essentially offering the butt of your spear to others. By relinquishing your authority, your endeavor will surely fail, and chaos will emerge." He Jin laughed and said, "This is the view of a coward!" A man standing to the side started to clap his hands as he burst out laughing, saying, "This is as easy as turning over your hand, there is no need for excessive debate!" They looked at the man; it was Cao Cao. It was a case of:
If the king is taken away, then the mice will come out to play. One must listen to the plans of the wise and talented men at court.
Are you wondering what Cao Cao was about to say? Keep reading, and all will be explained.