How Dong Zhuo rebukes Ding Yuan in Wenming garden; Li Su wins over Lü Bu with offerings of gold and pearls.
Let us now turn to Cao Cao. On that day, he said to He Jin, "There have been calamities caused by eunuchs since ancient times. However, a ruler can not use their favored status as a pretext to bring about the situation with which we are now faced. If you would like to punish wrongdoers, then you should get rid of the original culprit. However, you only need to employ one jailor for this task. There is no need to call up outside troops in such great numbers. If you want to kill all of them, the matter is bound to get out. I predict that it is doomed to fail." He Jin angrily replied, "Mengde, I take it that you have your own personal agenda?" Cao withdrew, saying, "It is Jin that is determined to wreak havoc on this world." Jin then quietly sent someone on a mission to travel non-stop and personally deliver the secret decree to each and every hamlet.
Let us now turn to former general Dong Zhuo --- the marquis of Tai Village, and governor of Xiliang Province --- who had failed to break up the Yellow Turbans. The court was planning on punishing him, but he bribed the ten regular attendants and got off lucky. Afterwards, he got cozy with some of the powerful officials at court, so he was appointed to a noteworthy post. He was in charge a large army of 200,000 men in Xizhou, but continued to harbor feelings of disloyalty. After he received this latest decree, he was overjoyed. He called up the army and cavalry, and marched them nonstop. He placed his son-in-law, Commander of the Palace Guard Niu Fu, in charge of defending Shaanxi. He led the rest of the army toward Luoyang, accompanied by people such as Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji and Fan Chou. Li Ru, Zhuo's son-in-law and advisor, said, "Even though our intention is to obey the decree, there are many vagaries within its text; why not send someone with a petition to the emperor which clearly states our intentions, so that we may accomplish great things." Zhuo was overjoyed, and sent the petition to the emperor. It said something to the effect of:
We, your subjects, have overheard that the reason for all of the chaos in the country is that the likes of eunuchs such as Zhang Rang and his ilk have been making a mockery of the natural hierarchy of relationships among men. We have heard it said that lifting the soup to stop it from boiling is less effective than taking away the firewood. Piercing an abscess to let the puss drain might be painful, but it is better than letting it fester. We boldly sound the drums and gongs of war on our way into Luoyang, so that we can clear out the likes of Rang and his cohorts. This is good for the nation! This is good for the world!
After He Jin received the petition, he showed it to his ministers. Assistant oversight advisor Zheng Tai admonished, "Dong Zhuo is a wolf and a jackal, if he enters the capital, it will most certainly be people that he devours." Jin replied, "You have too many doubts, and are not up to the task of planning for great things." Lu Zhi also admonished, "I know Dong Zhuo's character all too well, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Once he enters the palace, it will surely become a catastrophe. It is better to not allow him to enter the capital, in order to avoid chaos."
He Jin would not listen, so Zheng Tai and Lu Zhi resigned their posts and left. More than half of the senior ministers at court departed. Jin sent someone to meet with Dong Zhuo at Mianchi, and Zhuo temporarily held back his army. Zhang Rang and his cohorts knew of the arrival of the outside army, and discussed the matter, saying, "This is a plot of He Jin's; if we don't take action first, it will be the death of us." So they sent 50 armed guards to hide inside the gate to Jiade Hall within Changle Palace. They then went to see Empress Dowager He, saying, "The supreme general has now issued a forged decree which calls for outside armies to enter the capital. They want to destroy us. Please take pity, and save us." The empress dowager replied, "You could all go to the residence of the supreme general and apologize for your transgressions." Rang said, "If we were to go to the residence of the chancellor, he would make mince meat out of us. We would like for you to summon the supreme general to the palace, and command him to stop. If he does not comply, then all we can do is come before you and ask to be put to death."
The empress dowager issued a decree summoning Jin. Jin received the decree, and was going to make the trip. Chief of records Chen Lin admonished, "The empress dowager's decree is most certainly a plot of the ten regular attendants, you must not go. If you go, it will mean disaster." Jin replied, "The empress dowager has summoned me, what could go wrong?" Yuan Shao said, "The plot has already been leaked, the whole affair has been exposed. General, are you sure you still want to enter the palace?" Cao Cao said, "First tell the ten regular attendants to come out, and then you can go in." Jin smiled and said, "That is a childish view. I command all that is under heaven, what would the ten regular attendants dare do to me?" Shao said, "If you must go, we will escort you with a contingent of armour-clad soldiers, in order to prevent any unexpected eventualities."
Yuan Shao and Cao Cao then each selected five hundred elite soldiers, and placed Yuan Shao's younger brother Yuan Shu in command of them. Yuan Shu, clad in full-body armor, lined up his soldiers outside of Qingsuo Gate. Shao and Cao wore straight swords on their hips, and escorted He Jin to the front of Changle Palace. The eunuchs delivered a decree from the empress; it stated, "The empress dowager has summoned the supreme general, no one else may enter." They forced Yuan Shao, Cao Cao and the others to remain outside of the Palace Gate. He Jin boldly walked straight in. When he arrived at Jiade Hall, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui came out to meet him. Jin was then surrounded, to his great surprise. In a stern voice, Rang accused Jin, "What crime did Empress Dong commit that she should be wantonly poisoned to death? You pretended to be sick, and did not even attend her funeral! You are a low-class son of a butcher, yet we recommended that your family inherit the throne, which brought you wealth and glory; but instead of repaying us with gratitude, you plotted our destruction! You said that we were dirty, but who is the clean one?" Jin panicked, and began looking for an escape route, but the palace gates were all closed. Armor-clad soldiers came out of hiding in unison, and chopped off He Jin's head. People of later generations composed a poem to lament the incident:
The house of Han was in peril, and their days were at an end. He Jin lacked the ability to scheme, yet he controlled the offices of the three senior ministers.
On several occasions, he did not heed the advice of his loyal ministers. No wonder he should meet with the tip of a sword while in the palace!
Rang and his cohorts had killed He Jin. Yuan Shao had not seen Jin come out for quite some time, so he yelled out from outside the palace gates, "Will the general please board his wagon!" Rang and his cohorts took He Jin's head, and threw it over the wall. They then read a decree out loud, "He Jin has plotted insurrection, and has been executed for his crimes! The others were forced to go along with his scheme, so they will be granted amnesty." Yuan Shao shouted out in a stern voice, "The eunuchs have murdered the great minister! I say we kill all of the members of this evil faction; who is with me!" Wu Kuang, one of He Jin's officers, set fire to the outside of Qingsuo Gate. Yuan Shu led his troops on an attack of the palace. They burst inside and killed every eunuch in sight, no matter how important or insignificant. Yuan Shao and Cao Cao also fought their way inside. Zhao Zhong, Cheng Kuang, Xia Yun and Guo Sheng had all run to the front of the Cuihua building; it was there that they were cut to smithereens. The flames from inside the palace floated high into the sky. Zhang Rang, Duan Gui, Cao Jie and Hou Lan forced the empress dowager, the crown prince and the Prince of Chenliu to leave the emperor's private quarters; they were escorted through a rear pathway to the northern palace.
At that time, Lu Zhi had resigned his post, but had not yet left. When he saw that there was a disturbance at the palace, he donned his armor and picked up a weapon. He then went out and stood at the foot of a tower. In the distance, he spotted Duan Gui forcing Empress He to go. Zhi yelled out, "Duan Gui you traitor, how dare you kidnap the empress dowager!" Duan Gui turned around and ran off. The empress dowager jumped out of the window, and Zhi immediately came to her rescue. Wu Kuang fought his way into the inner palace, where he saw He Miao, armed with a sword. Kuang yelled out, "He Miao conspired to kill his brother, we should kill him!" Everybody said, "Let's all cut down the one who plotted against his brother!" Miao wanted to leave, but was surrounded on all sides. He was hacked to smithereens. Shao then ordered his soldiers to split up and go after the families of the ten regular attendants. No matter how important or insignificant, all were exterminated. There were many beardless ones who were killed by mistake. Cao Cao worked to put out the fires within the palace. At the same time, he requested Empress Dowager He to temporarily place him in charge of the government. He then sent his soldiers in pursuit of Zhang Rang and his cohorts, as well as the young emperor.
Let us now turn to Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, who had made off with both the young emperor and the Prince of Chenliu. They had battled their way through the smoke and flames, and rushed through the night toward Mount Mang. At around midnight, they heard a loud commotion behind them, which was accompanied by lots of shouting. Horses and men quickly arrived; in the front was Min Gong, assistant to the governor of central Henan, who shouted, "Halt you traitors!" Zhang Rang saw how desperate the situation was, so he jumped into the river and died. The emperor and the Prince of Chenliu knew not what to believe, so they dared not make any loud noises. They hid in some tall grass beside the river. The soldiers and horses scattered in all four directions, they did not know the whereabouts of the emperor.
The emperor and the prince hid until the fourth watch; the dew started to cover everything. They were hungry, and embraced each other. They began to weep, but were afraid of someone noticing them, so they stifled their sobs while still amongst the reeds. The Prince of Chenliu said, "We cannot linger here for much longer, we must find a road out of here." The two of them then bound themselves together with their clothing, and climbed up onto the bank of the river. The area was carpeted with thorn bushes, and they could not see the path in the dark. They were about to give up, when a swarm of fireflies suddenly appeared, and lit up the area. They only flew around the emperor. The Prince of Chenliu said, "Heaven must be helping my brother!" They followed the light from the fireflies, and eventually spotted the road. They walked until the fifth watch, when their feet became too sore to continue. There was a haystack at the foot of a small hill. The emperor and the prince crouched down beside the haystack. In front of the haystack was a villa. The master of the villa had been dreaming that two red suns had landed behind his villa, and woke up with a start. He got dressed, went outside, and looked all around. He noticed a red glow, rising up into the sky, from the haystack behind the villa. He hurried over to take a look, and found the two of them crouching beside the hay.
The master of the villa asked, "What family are you two boys from?" The emperor did not dare respond. The Prince of Chenliu pointed to the emperor, saying, "This is the emperor now. He was caught up in the pandemonium of the ten regular attendants. He escaped and came here. I am the emperor's younger brother, the Prince of Chenliu. The master of the villa was taken aback; he performed the ritual obeisance, and said, "I am Cui Yi, the younger brother of Cui Lie. Cui Lie had served as Minister over the Masses under the previous emperor. His post was sold away by the ten regular attendants, because they were threatened by his talents. As a result, we went into hiding in this place." He then escorted the emperor into the villa, brought in both wine and food, and knelt down before them.
Let us now turn to Min Gong, who had overtaken Duan Gui; he asked, "Where is the Son of Heaven?" Gui responded, "We became separated along the way; I don't know where he went." Gong then killed Duan Gui, and hung his severed head around the neck of his horse. He then had his troops split up and search everywhere. He even got on a horse himself, and rode out in search of the emperor. When he happened upon Cui Yi's villa, Yi saw the severed head, and asked about it. Gong gave a detailed account of what had transpired. Cui Yi brought Gong to see the emperor. Ruler and subject wept bitterly. Gong said, "The nation cannot be without its ruler for even one day. Your Majesty, please return to the capital." There was only one shriveled up horse in Cui Yi's villa. The horse was made ready for the emperor to ride. Gong and the Prince of Chenliu rode together on the same horse. They had not gone more than three li from the village when they encountered a large group of horses and men, who had brought along the emperor's personal carriage. This group included: Minister over the Masses Wang Yun, Grand Commandant Yang Biao, captain of the left army Chunyu Qiong, captain of the right army Zhao Meng, captain of the rear army Bao Xin, and captain of the middle army Yuan Shao. Ruler and subjects all wept. They sent someone ahead with the head of Duan Gui, so that it could be put on public display in the capital. They also changed horses so that the emperor and the Prince of Chenliu could have decent mounts to ride. The entire group returned to the capital. In Luoyang, there had been a children's song that went, "The emperor is not an emperor, the king is not a king, hundreds of horses ran off to Mount Mang." The song turned out to be quite apropos.
The royal carriage had not gone more than a few li when they suddenly saw a vast number of banners which seemed to block out the sun. A bunch of horses and men approached, kicking up dust which covered the sky. All of the government officials turned pale; the emperor was startled as well. Yuan Shao road out on his horse and asked, "Who are you?" A general burst out from behind the shadow of the silk flags, and asked in a stern voice, "Where is the Son of Heaven?" The emperor trembled in fear and could not speak. The Prince of Chenliu charged out on his horse, shouting, "Who comes before us?" Zhuo replied, "I am the governor of Xiliang Province; my name is Dong Zhuo." The Prince of Chenliu said, "Are you here to protect the royal carriage or are you here to make off with it?" Zhuo responded, "I have come especially to protect the royal carriage." The Prince of Chenliu said, "Since you have come to protect the royal carriage, the Son of Heaven is here. Why don't you dismount from your horse?" Zhuo was shocked, and hurriedly climbed down from his horse. He made his obeisance at the left side of the road. The Prince of Chenliu said a few words to Dong Zhuo so as to put him at ease, and did not misspeak from start to finish. Zhuo was secretly impressed by him, and already had thoughts of forcing the emperor to abdicate in favor of the prince.
They returned to the capital that day, and saw Empress Dowager He. They all broke down in tears. They conducted a thorough search of the palace, but did not find the Heirloom Jade Seal of the Realm. Dong Zhuo had stationed his troops outside the city. Everyday, he led his armored cavalry into the city, and ran amuck in the markets. The citizenry was uneasy. Zhuo brazenly entered and exited the palace. Captain of the rear army Bao Xin came to see Yuan Shao, and told him that Dong Zhuo must have some ulterior motive, and that they should get rid of him. Shao replied, "The court has just been reestablished, we cannot do anything rash." Bao Xin then went to see Wang Yun, and told him the same thing. Yun said, "We should discuss this further." Xin took it upon himself to lead the main force of the army on a trip to Mount Tai.
Dong Zhuo gathered up all of the soldiers that had been under the command of He Jin's brother, and took charge of them. In private, he said to Li Ru, "I want to depose the emperor, and replace him with the Prince of Chenliu, what do you think?" Li Ru replied, "The court is now without a ruler, if you delay and don't take action now, it will result in rebellion later on. Tomorrow, assemble all of the officials in the Garden of Warmth and Brightness, and proclaim the deposing of the emperor. Behead anyone who does not comply. If you do this, the power will be yours to wield on this very day."
Zhuo was delighted. The next day, he arranged a large banquet, and invited all of the senior ministers. The senior ministers were all intimidated by Dong Zhuo; who would dare not come? Zhuo waited until all of the officials had arrived before sauntering up to the gates of the garden. He climbed down from his horse and took his seat, still wearing his sword. After several rounds of wine, Zhuo ordered the drinking and merriment be stopped. He said in a stern voice, "I have something to say. Everyone, listen to me and do not speak." Everyone leaned in to listen. Zhuo said, "The Son of Heaven is the ruler of all the people. He cannot make sacrifices at the ancestral temple if he lacks a stately bearing. The current emperor is cowardly and weak. He cannot compare to the Prince of Chenliu, who is smart and loves learning. He has what it takes to succeed the throne. I would like depose the emperor, and replace him with the Prince of Chenliu. What does everyone think?" They all listened to him, but nobody dared utter a sound. One of them pushed away his table, and stood up in front of everybody. He bellowed, "You can't do this! You can't do this! Who are you that you dare speak in such grandiose terms? The Son of Heaven is the son of the legal wife of the deceased emperor. He has yet to make a misstep. How can you cavalierly depose him? Do you want to stage a coup?" Zhuo looked at him; it was Ding Yuan, governor of Jingzhou Province. Zhuo angrily retorted, "Those who obey me shall live, and those who oppose me shall die!" He then took out his sword, and was about to cut down Ding Yuan.
Then, Li Ru saw an imposing person with a dignified bearing, armed with the square sky painted halberd; this person was behind Ding Yuan, and had anger in his eyes. Li Ru rushed forward and said, "We must not talk about matters of state at our banquet today. There is still time for us to have an open discussion tomorrow, when we are at the meeting hall." Everyone advised Ding Yuan to get on his horse and leave. Zhuo asked all of the ministers, "Are my words in accordance with principles of fairness or not?" Lu Zhi responded, "Your Excellency is in error. In the past, Tai Jia was unwise, and Yi Yin exiled him to the Paulownia palace. The Prince of Changyi had only been on the throne for twenty seven days, but had committed more than three thousand infractions, so Huo Guang held a ceremony at the imperial ancestral temple which deposed him. Although the current emperor is young, he is smart, benevolent and wise. Moreover, he has not made a single misstep. You are a provincial governor. You have never taken part in matters of state, and you also lack the considerable talents of Yi and Huo. How can you impose your will, and have the emperor deposed? A sage once said, 'If one has the will of Yi Yin, then it is possible; if one lacks the will of Yi Yin, then it will result in rebellion.'"
Zhuo was furious; he drew his sword, intending to kill Zhi. Court Advisor Peng Bo admonished him, "Chief of staff Lu represents the hopes of all of the people. If you harm him now, it will strike terror throughout the entire country." Zhuo stopped. Minister over the Masses Wang Yun said, "A thing like deposing an emperor should not be discussed after one has had too much wine, let us discuss this again on another day." After that, all of the officials began to disperse. Zhuo stood at the gate to the gardens, holding his sword. Suddenly, he saw a person riding a horse with a halberd in his hand. He was outside the gate to gardens, galloping back and forth. Zhuo asked Li Ru, "Who is that?" Ru answered, "That is Ding Yuan's adoptive son. His surname is Lü, and his given name is Bu. His style name is Fengxian. Your Excellency should steer clear of him." After that, Zhuo went into the gardens so he would not be seen.
The following day, it was reported that Ding Yuan had amassed troops outside the city walls and was spoiling for a fight. Zhuo was furious, and led his own army, accompanied by Li Ru, out to meet them. The two armies squared off, and all eyes were on Lü Bu. Lü Bu was wearing a gold and silk braided cap, with long pheasant feathers protruding from each side of the cap. He wore a multi-patterned warrior garment underneath tangni body armor. He wore a belt decorated with prints of lions and barbarian kings. He was galloping around on his horse with his halberd in hand. He accompanied Ding Jianyang out to the front line. Jianyang pointed at Zhuo, and cursed, "The misfortunes of the country were all the result of abuses by the eunuchs. As a consequence, all of the people were made to suffer. And you, who lacks even one ounce of merit, how dare you say such outrageous things about deposing the emperor; do you want to throw the court into chaos?"
Before Dong Zhuo could respond, Lü Bu charged at full gallop. Dong Zhuo fled in panic; Jianyang took advantage of the confusion, and led his army in an attack. Zhuo's army suffered a major defeat, and retreated more than 30 li before making camp. He gathered everyone together to discuss the matter. Zhuo said, "I see that Lü Bu is no ordinary man. If I could acquire this person, what need would I have to be concerned about a single thing in the world?" A person appeared at the front of the tent, and said, "Don't worry, Your Excellency. I am a countryman of Lü Bu's. I know that he is brave, but lacks strategy, and is likely to forget about principles if there's something in it for him. I'm good at schmoozing, and can easily convince Lü Bu to fall in line. Will you allow me to try?"
Zhuo was overjoyed. He looked at the person; it was captain of the guard Li Su. Zhuo said, "How will you persuade him?" Su responded, "I have heard that Your Excellency owns a famous horse, named 'Red Hare,' which can travel one thousand li in a single day. I must have this horse, along with gold and pearls, in order to help me to win over his heart. After that, I will present our proposition to him. If we do all of this, Lü Bu will definitely betray Ding Yuan, and switch allegiance to Your Excellency." Zhuo asked Li Ru, "Is his idea acceptable?" Ru responded, "If Your Excellency wants to conquer the world, why quibble over one horse?" Zhuo happily gave the horse, along with one thousand taels of gold, 10 shiny pearls, and one jade belt.
Carrying the presents, Li Su set out towards Lü Bu's camp. The soldiers hiding at the sides of the road came out and surrounded him. Su said, "Inform General Lü at once that an old friend has come to see him." The soldiers relayed the message, and Bu ordered the soldiers to have Su come in and see him. Su looked at Bu, and said, "My esteemed young friend, you look well!" Bu saluted, and replied, "Long time, no see; where are you living nowadays?" Su said, "I currently am serving as captain of the imperial guard. When I heard that you had come to the aid of the nation, I was extremely happy. I have a fine horse, capable of running one thousand li in a single day. It can cross rivers and climb mountains as if it were on a piece of flat ground. Its name is 'Red Hare;' I came especially to give him to you, to help give you the aura of a general." Bu ordered it to be lead over so that he could look at it. Sure enough, the entire horse was the color of burning charcoal, without a single strand of fur out of place. From head to tail, its length measured one zhang. From its hoof to the nape of its neck, it measured eight chi. It loudly neighed and bellowed, and seemed as though it could soar through air and gallop into the sea. People of later generations composed a poem just for Red Hare, it went:
It gallops one thousand li, and kicks up the dust; violet mist is parted in half as the steed crosses over rivers and climbs mountains.
Pulling on the silk reigns causes them to break, as the jade bridle whips back and forth; the flaming dragon flies down to the Ninth Heaven.
Bu looked at the horse, and was overjoyed. He thanked Su, saying, "Now that you have given me this fine horse, how shall I repay you?" Su replied, "I have come here because we share a personal bond, how could I expect anything in return?" Bu poured more wine for his guest. After feeling a bit tipsy, Su said, "I don't get to see you that much, but your dear father comes quite often." Bu said, "You're drunk! My father passed away many years ago, how could you meet with him?" Su responded, "No, no; I'm talking about provincial governor Ding." Bu said timidly, "I am not with Ding Jianyang by choice." Su replied, "But you are so incredibly talented; in the entire world, who wouldn't admire you? For you, fame, fortune and prestige are as easy to come by as reaching into to your own pocket for something. How can you say that you have no choice about whom you serve?" Bu said, "I regret not having such a lord under which I could serve." Su smiled and said, "'A good bird chooses for himself the tree upon which to perch, the talented subject chooses for himself the lord that he shall serve.' Your time is running out for spotting opportunities, you may regret waiting until it's too late." Bu said, "You are at court, which person do you consider to be a world-class hero?" Su responded, "I have looked around at all of the ministers, and none of them can compare to Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo respects men of talent; he rewards or punishes based on merit. He will end up doing great things." Bu said, "I would like to follow him; unfortunately, I don't have an in with him."
Su took out the gold, pearls and jade belt, and laid them out before Bu. Bu was astonished, and said, "What is all this for?" Su commanded all of the attendants to withdraw, then told Bu, "Lord Dong has been an admirer of yours for quite some time; he especially ordered that these gifts be presented to you. Red Hare is also a present from Lord Dong." Bu said, "How can I ever repay Lord Dong for such kindness?" Su said, "Look at me, I have no great abilities, and yet I was made Captain of the Imperial Guard; if you were to switch allegiance to him, the rewards would be beyond anything you could imagine." Bu said, "Unfortunately, I have not performed even the slightest deed which could be offered as tribute for such a benefactor." Su said, "There is one thing that would be as quick and easy as turning over your hand, but you probably would not be willing do it." Bu muttered to himself for a long time, then said, "What if I were to kill Ding Yuan, and bring his army over to Dong Zhuo's side, how would that be?" Su said, "If you could do that, it would be a huge accomplishment! But you would have to take action before it's too late, so you'll need to decide quickly."
Bu promised Su that he would surrender his forces the next day, so Su departed. That night during the second watch, Bu marched straight into Ding Yuan's tent with his sword in hand. Yuan was reading by candlelight at the time; when he saw that Bu had arrived, he said, "My son, what's wrong?" Bu said, "I am a full grown man of accomplishment, how could I ever consent to being your son!" Yuan responded, "Fengxian, why have you had a sudden change of heart?" Bu moved in with his sword and cut off Ding Yuan's head in one movement; he shouted out, "Attendants! Ding Yuan was a tyrant, and I have now killed him. Those who wish to follow me stay here, those who do not can leave of their own accord!" Just over half of the soldiers took their leave.
The next day, Bu took the head of Ding Yuan and went to see Li Su. Su then took Bu to see Zhuo. Zhuo was overjoyed, and poured wine for his guest. Zhuo then bowed in respect, saying, "My obtaining a new general is like a parched seedling encountering a sweet rain." Bu took a seat with Zhuo and saluted him, saying, "If you will have me, I would like your permission to call you my new father." Zhuo presented a suit of armor, along with a brocade gown, to Bu as a gift. They merrily drank and then parted company. Zhuo's prestige grew even stronger after this, and he personally took over as general of the front army. He made his younger brother Dong Min general of the left army and gave him the title of Marquis of Hu County. He made Bu captain of the cavalry and captain of the imperial guard, and also gave him the title of Marquis of the Capital City Ting. Li Ru advised Zhuo to quickly finalize his plans for deposing the emperor. Zhuo then threw a banquet at the palace, and gathered all of the ministers. He ordered Lü Bu to command a detail of more than 1,000 troops to stand guard.
That day, all of the officials arrived, including Grand Tutor Yuan Wei. After a few rounds of drinks, Zhuo grabbed his sword, and said, "The current emperor is ignorant and weak. He is not qualified to make offerings at the imperial ancestral temple. I am going to follow the precedent set by Yi Yin and Huo Guang; I will demote the emperor to Prince of Hongnong, and make Prince of Chenliu emperor instead. Anyone who does not obey my wishes shall be executed!" The ministers were all terrified, and no one dared oppose him. Then Yuan Shao, captain of the middle army, stood up and said, "The current emperor has only been on the throne for a short time, and he has not committed any transgressions. Now you want to depose the son of an empress, and replace him with the son of a concubine; if that is not treason, then what is?" Zhuo angrily replied, "I control everything under the heavens! If I decide to do something now, who will dare to oppose me? Do you believe that my sword is not sharp?" Yuan Shao also drew his own sword, saying, "Your sword is sharp, and my sword has never been dull!" The two of them squared off near their reed seating mats. It was a case of:
Ding Yuan upheld justice, and was the first to die. Yuan Shao is now in a fight to the finish, and his power is in peril.
How did things turn out for Yuan Shao? Did he live or die? Keep reading, and all will be explained.