In a short time Cao Hong, Li Dian, and Yue Jing came
to the imperial chariot and their names having been duly communicated.
Cao Hong said, “When my brother, Cao Cao, heard of the approach of the rebels, he feared that the advance guard he had sent might be too weak, so he sent me to march quickly for reinforcement.”
“General Cao Cao is indeed a trusty servant！” said the Emperor.
Orders were given to advance, Cao Hong leading the escort. By and by scouts came to say that the rebels were coming up very quickly. The Emperor bade Xiahou Dun divide his force into two parts to oppose them. Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong’s armies threw out two wings with cavalry in front and foot behind. They attacked with vigor and beat off the Li Jue and Guo Si’s rebels with severe loss of ten thousand. Then Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong begged the Emperor to return to Luoyang, and Xiahou Dun guarded the city.
Next day Cao Cao came with his GREat army, and having got them duly camped he went into the city to audience. He knelt at the foot of the steps, but was called up hither to stand beside the Emperor and be thanked.
Cao Cao replied, “Having been the recipient of GREat bounty, thy servant owes the state much gratitude. The measure of evil of the two rebels is full, I have two hundred thousand of good soldiers to oppose them, and those soldiers are fully equal to securing the safety of Your Majesty and the Throne. The preservation of the state sacrifice is the matter of real moment.”
High honors were conferred on Cao Cao. He was appointed Commander of Capital District, Minister of War, and granted Military Insignia.
the two rebels, Li Jue and Guo Si, wished to attack Cao Cao’s army while fatigued from its long march. But their adviser, Jia Xu, opposed this, saying, “There was no hope of victory.
He has both strong soldiers and brave leaders.
Submission may bring us amnesty.”
Li Jue was angry at the suggestion,
crying, “Do you wish to dishearten the army？”
Cao Cao understood and at once prepared his army to move. Just at this moment
an imperial messenger was announced with the very command Cao Cao wanted, and Cao Cao immediately set out.
At Luoyang everything was desolate. the walls had fallen, and there were no means of rebuilding them, while rumors and reports of the coming of Li Jue and Guo Si kept up a state of constant anxiety.
the frightened Emperor spoke with Yang Feng, saying, “What can be done？ There is no answer from the East of Huashang, and our enemies are near.”
then Yang Feng and Han Xian said, “We, your ministers, will fight to the death for you.”
But Dong Cheng said, “the fortifications are weak and our military resources small, so that we cannot hope for victory, and what does defeat mean？ I see nothing better to propose than a move into the east of Huashang Mountains.”
the Emperor aGREed to this, and the journey began without further preparation. There being few horses, the officers of the court had to march afoot. Hardly a bowshot outside the gate they saw a thick cloud of dust out of which came all the clash and clamor of an advancing army. The Emperor and his Consort were dumb with fear. Then appeared a horseman； he was the messenger returning from the East of Huashang Mountains.
He rode up to the chariot, made an obeisance, and said, “General Cao Cao, as commanded, is coming with all the military force of the East of Huashang； but hearing that Li Jue and Guo Si had again approached the capital, he has sent Xiahou Dun in advance. With Xiahou Dun are many capable leaders and fifty thousand of proved soldiers. They will guard Your Majesty.”
All fear was swept away. Soon after Xiahou Dun and his staff arrived. Xiahou Dun, Xu Chu,
and Dian Wei were presented to the Emperor who graciously addressed them.
Then one came to say a large army was approaching from the east,
and at the Emperor’s command Xiahou Dun went to ascertain who these were.
He soon returned saying they were Cao Cao’s infantry.
Imperial Guardian Yang Biao memorialized the Throne, saying,
“The decree issued to me some time ago has never been acted upon. Now Cao Cao is very strong in the east
of Huashang Mountains, and it would be well to associate him in the government that he might support the ruling house.”
the Emperor replied, “There was no need to refer to the matter again. Send a messenger when you will.”
So the decree went forth and a messenger bore it into the East of Huashang. Now when Cao Cao had heard that the court had returned to Capital Luoyang, he called together his advisers to consult.
[e] Duke Wen of Jin （reigned 636-628 BC） was ruler of the western state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn period. He and his successors made Jin a dominant state for nearly 200 years. ……
[e] the Qin Dynasty ended in BC 206. From BC 206 to BC 202, there was actually no emperor in China； and the principal event in this period of anarchy was what we call the Strife between Chu and Han. It was a continuous conflict between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang, the former a native of Wu,
and the latter of Pei. Both of them had been lieutenants under King Huai of Chu. This King, aka Emperor Yi, was a descendant of the old ruling house of the state of Chu, and during
the troubles attending the breakup of the Qin empire, he setup a kingdom on the ruins. Xiang Yu eventually became the leader of Chu army； and he allegedly had King Huai murdered. Liu Bang, now a leader of Han army, mourned King Huai’s death to show his loyal heart.
Xun Yu laid the matter before Cao Cao and the council thus： “Eight hundred years ago, Duke Wen of Jin supported Prince Xiang of the declining Zhou Dynasty, and all the feudal lords backed Duke Wen*. The Founder of the Hans, Liu Bang, won the popular favor by wearing mourning for Emperor Yi of Chu*.
Now Emperor Xian has been a fugitive on the dusty roads.
To take the lead in offering an army
to restore him to honor is to have an unrivaled
opportunity to win universal regard. But you
must act quickly or someone will get in before you.”
the last chapter closed with the arrival of Li Yue who
shouted out falsely that the army was that of the two
arch rebels Li Jue and Guo Si come to capture the imperial cavalcade. But Yang Feng recognized the voice of Li Yue and bade Xu Huang go out to fight him. Xu Huang went and in the first bout the traitor fell. The White Wave rebels scattered, and the travelers got safely through Zhiguan Hills. Here the Governor of Henei, Zhang Yang, supplied them plentifully with food and other necessaries and escorted the Emperor to Zhidao. For his timely help, the Emperor conferred upon Zhang Yang the rank of a Grand Commander. Yang Feng moved his army to the northeast of Luoyang and camped at Yewang.
Capital Luoyang was presently entered. Within the walls all was destruction. The palaces and halls had been burned, the streets were overgrown with grass and brambles and obstructed by heaps of ruins. The palaces and courts were represented by broken roofs and toppling walls. A small “palace” however was soon built, and therein the officers of court presented their congratulations, standing in the open air among thorn hushes and brambles. The reign style was changed from Prosperous Stability to Rebuilt Tranquillity, the first year （AD 196）。
the year was grievous with famine. The Luoyang people, even reduced in numbers as they were to a few hundreds, had not enough to eat and they prowled about stripping the bark off trees and grubbing up the roots of plants to satisfy their starving hunger. Officers of the government of all but the highest ranks went out into the country to gather fuel. Many people were crushed by the falling walls of burned houses. At no time during the decadence of Han did misery press harder than at this period.
A poem written in pity for the sufferings of that time says：
Mortally wounded, the white serpent poured forth its life blood at Mangdang Hills；Blood-red pennons of war waved then in every quarter, Chieftain with chieftain strove and raided each other’s borders, Midst the turmoil and strife the Kingship even was threatened.
Wickedness stalks in a country when the King is a weakling,
Brigandage always is rife,
when a dynasty’s failing, Had one a heart of iron,
wholly devoid of feeling, Yet would one surely
grieve at the sight of such desolation.
Now Han Rong went to see Li Jue and Guo Si. After listening to his vigorous persuasions,
the two rebel generals aGREed to set free the officials and Palace people.
A famine occurred that same year and people were reduced to eating grass from the roadside. Starving, they wandered hither and thither. But food and clothing were sent to the Emperor from the governor of Henei, Zhang Yang, and the governor of Hedong, Wang Yi, and the court began to enjoy a little repose.
Dong Cheng and Yang Feng sent laborers to restore the palaces in Luoyang with the intention of moving the court thither. Li Yue was opposed to this.
Dong Cheng argued, “Luoyang is the original capital as opposed to the paltry town of Anyi. Removal would be but reasonable.”
Li Yue wound up by saying, “You may get the court to remove, but I shall remain here.”
But when the consent of the Emperor had been given and a start made, Li Yue secretly sent to arrange with Li Jue and Guo Si to capture the Emperor. However, this plot leaked out and the escort so arranged as to prevent such a thing, and they pressed on to the pass at Zhiguan Hills as rapidly as possible. Li Yue heard this, and without waiting for his rebel colleagues to join him set out to act alone.
About the fourth watch, just as the cavalcade was passing Zhiguan Hills, a voice was heard shouting, “Stop those carriages！ Li Jue and Guo Si are here！”
This frightened the Emperor GREatly,
and his terror increased when he saw the whole mountain side suddenly light up. Indeed：
[hip, hip, hip] the rebel party, erstwhile split in twain,
To work their wicked will now join three again. [yip, yip, yip]
How the Son of Heaven escaped this peril will be told in the next chapter.
the boat was too small to carry everybody,
and those unable to get on board clung to the cable, but Li Yue cut them down, and they fell into the water. They ferried over the Emperor and then sent back the boat for the others. There was a GREat scramble to get on board, and they had to chop off the fingers and hands of those who persisted in clinging to the boat. The lamentation rose to the heavens.
When they mustered on the farther bank, many were missing, only a dozen of the Emperor’s suite were left. Yang Feng found a bullock cart and transported the Emperor and Empress to Dayang. They had no food and at night sought shelter in a poor, tile-roofed house. The cottagers gave them some boiled millet but it was too coarse to be swallowed.
Next day the Emperor conferred titles on those who had protected him. Li Yue was made General Who Conquers the North, and Han Xian was appointed General Who Conquers the East.
the flight continued. Soon two officers of rank came up with the cortege, and they bowed before His Majesty with many tears. They were Imperial Guardian Yang Biao and Minister Han Rong. The Emperor and Empress lifted up their voices and wept with them.
Said Han Rong to his colleague, “the rebels have confidence in my words. You stay as guard of the Emperor, and I will take my life in my hands and try to bring about peace.”
After Han Rong had gone, the Emperor rested for a time in Yang Feng’s camp. But Yang Biao requested the Emperor to head for Anyi and make the capital there. When the train reached the town, they found it containing not a single lofty building, and the court lived in grass huts devoid even of doors. They surrounded these with a fence of thorns as a protection, and within this the Emperor held counsel with his ministers. The soldiers camped round the fence.
Now Li Yue and his fellow ruffians showed their true colors. They wielded the powers of the Emperor as they wished, and officials who offended them were beaten or abused even in the presence of the Emperor. They purposely provided thick wine and coarse food for the Emperor’s consumption. He struggled to swallow what they sent. Li Yue and Han Xian joined in recommending to the Throne the names of convicts, common soldiers, sorcerers, leeches, and such people who thus obtained official ranks.
There were more than two hundred of such people.
As seals could not be engraved,
pieces of metal were hammered into some sort of a shape.
Court affairs had never degraded to such a low point.
When the rebel generals showed signs of pursuit,
Yang Feng and Dong Cheng had to play a double-edged sword. They sent to offer to discuss terms of peace with Li Jue and Guo Si； at the same time they sent a secret edict to enlist the help from the leaders of the White Wave rebels——Han Xian, Li Yue, and Hu Cai. The White Wave was a branch of the Yellow Scarves, and Li Yue was actually a brigand and had inspired rebels throughout the country. But the need for help was so desperate.
these three, being promised pardon for their faults and crimes and a grant of official rank, naturally responded to the call, and thus the loyal side was strengthened so that Hongnong was recaptured. But meanwhile Li Jue and Guo Si laid waste whatever place they reached, slaying the aged and weakly, forcing the strong to join their ranks. When going into a fight they forced these people-soldiers to the front, and they called them the “Dare-to-Die” soldiers.
Li Jue and Guo Si’s force was overwhelming. When Li Yue, the White Wave leader, approached with his army, Guo Si bade his soldiers scatter clothing and valuables along the road. The late robbers could not resist the temptation, so a scramble began. Then Guo Si’s soldiers fell upon the disordered ranks and did much damage. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng had to take the Emperor away to the north.
the enemy came very near, and the Emperor left his carriage and went on foot. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng escorted him to the bank of the Yellow River. Li Yue sought a boat to ferry him to the other side. The weather was very cold and the Emperor and Empress cuddled up close to each other shivering. They reached the river but the banks were too high, and they could not get down into the boat. So Yang Feng proposed to fasten together the horses’ bridles and lower down the Emperor slung by the waist. However, the Empress’ brother, Fu De, found some rolls of white silk from dead soldiers, and they rolled up the two imperial personages in the silk, and thus they lowered them down near the boat. Then Li Yue took up his position in the prow leaning on his sword. Fu De carried the Empress on his back into the boat.
Li Jue and Guo Si pursued.
Li Yue said, “the danger is grave. I pray Your Majesty mount a horse and go in advance.”
the Emperor replied, “I cannot bear to abandon my officers.”
they wept and struggled on as best they could.
The White Wave leader Hu Cai was killed in one attack.
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.