During the Warring States Period (476-221 BC), the state of Zhao was under attack by Qin. Zhao asked the state of Wei for help. But worried that Qin – the most powerful state – would retaliate, the King of Wei told his army general Jin Bi to stop the advance of his troops and wait for further notice.
Lord Xinling, the son of the King of Wei, was determined to save Zhao. Before he took off, he went to visit his friend Hou Ying to bid farewell.
Hou was a very intelligent man. He told Lord Xinling that without his father’s army he was courting his own death. Hou suggested instead that Lord Xinling appeal to Ru Ji, the King of Wei’s favourite concubine. Being the closest to King of Wei, Ru could steal the military tally that the king uses to convey orders to General Jin. This tally would allow Lord Xinling to assume control of the Wei army. Lord Xinling immediately discussed the matter with Ru, who quickly gave her consent. That’s because she owed Lord Xinling an earlier favour for avenging the death of her father. Late that night, after the King of Wei was asleep, she stole the tally and passed it to Lord Xinling.
Still, Lord Xinling was worried that General Jin would refuse to pass the command to him. So he devised a Plan B, and brought with him Zhu Hai, a reclusive butcher. As predicted, Jin refused to recognise the authority of the stolen tally and demanded to speak to the king. The butcher killed him in one blow.
Leading an army of 80,000 men Lord Xinling set out to relieve Zhao.
Unprepared for Wei’s attack, Qin’s army was quickly demolished.
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