At the end of the Warring States period in China, Qin, the strongest state in China, sought to dominate the other Chinese states. After Qin conquering state Zhao, state Yan became the next target of Qin.
Yan was a small state and thus hardly resisted Qin's attack. To save his state, Dan, the crown prince of Yan, planed to enlist a assassin to kill Ying Zheng, the king of Qin. It took Dan a long time to find a real warrior to do this job. Finally, he met Jing ke, a brave and resourceful man. (Jing Ke was originally from state Wei, which he left because he was not being recognized by the King of Wei. After traveling around, he arrived at Yan and made friends with a musician named Gao Jian li. Together they passed the days drinking and having fun.)
Dan, to win the loyalty of Jing Ke, treated him extremely well. Besides satisfying his every request, Dan even served Jing Ke as respectfully as he did his own father, which moved Jing Ke so much that he agreed to carry out the assassination.
|Emperor And The Assassin|
Because the king of Qin slaughtered all his families, Fan Wu Ji killed himself without any hesitation after Jing Ke promised to revenge for him. Together with the head and a map of Yan, Jing Ke had enough reasons to approach the king of Qin.
At the river of Yi (the border of Yan), off onto his mission, Jing Ke reportedly shouted out this impromptu poem after a cup of wine with friends: "Piercing wind, freezing river of Yi. The hero fords, and he never returns!" (风萧萧兮易水寒，壮士一去兮不复还!)
Hearing his song with the accompaniment of a Zhu (an ancient Chinese instrument) played by Gao Jian Li, every one who saw him off cried bitterly.
Armed with a poisoned dagger hidden inside the rolled-up map scroll, Jing Ke met with the King of Qin in his palace at the capital of Qin. As Jing Ke had expected, seeing the head of Fan Wi Qi and the map of Yan, the kong of Qin had no doubt about his sincerity. Jing Ke laid the the map on the table before the king, and expounded the geography of Yan as he unrolling it. When the scroll reached its end, the dagger showed up. Jing Ke seized the dagger and plunged it towards the king while grasping his sleeve.
In the struggle, Jing Ke missed his first attack. The sleeve was torn off and the King escaped. As Jing Ke chased the King around the audience hall, the King tried to pull out his sword which was slung at his side; however this was a ceremonial weapon which had been made especially long to impress onlookers and the King was unable to unsheathe it.
A court doctor, seeing the king in danger, cried:" Your Majesty, sling your sword across the back; draw it across the shoulder!" and at the same time he threw his medicine box at Jing Ke which made him pause for a second. Taking advantage of this occasion, the King of Qin finally managed to draw his sword and stabbed Jing Ke with it nine times. Knowing that his chance was slipping away, Jing Ke threw the dagger at the King but missed.
Finally soldiers, which had been posted at a great distance and barred from entering the hall without orders, arrived and killed the assassin.
Background and Writer Comment:
Jing Ke was not a successful assassins, but his heroism, which reflects the general ideology of the society at that time, is recorded in the Biographies of the Assassins in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian, or Shiji, and his name has long been on the lips of the Chinese people.
The idiom produced from this story is "The Dagger Shows Up At The End Of The Map Scroll--Tu Qiong Bi Xian". Now people use this idiom to describe the case in which the real intention is revealed in the end. Normally, it is not a good word.